The FASEB Journal
Medical schools have made an increasing effort to provide students with online anatomical resources. Yet, studies report that most students who encounter a question during their anatomy study will consult the internet or social media to find supplemental resources before using course materials. A quick internet search by a novel anatomist may lead to inaccurate information and overwhelming results. We created sets of accurate and unique anatomical diagrams and shared these via a social media account to assess their perceived utility and accessibility to students learning anatomy.
Anatomical diagrams were created and shared on a public Instagram account, Anatomy Adventures, during the 2020-21 academic year. The systems-oriented graphics covered musculoskeletal, nervous, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems, including the osteology, myology, and neurovasculature of each system. An IRB-approved survey (10.6% response rate) was distributed from March-April 2021, assessing: 1) the demographics of the surveyed population, 2) how the diagrams were utilized, and 3) how they could be improved. A free-form space was included for optional feedback. Responses were tabulated and converted to frequencies and percentages; descriptive codes were applied to the data according to published methods to summarize verbatim responses. Chi square test assessed differences among the responses when applicable. Alpha<5%.
Of the 111 survey responses, 95% participants fell within the 18-30 age range, with 78% identifying as female. The majority of participants were medical students (69%), but the sample also included undergraduate/graduate students (16%), as well as fully employed participants (14%). Geographically, most participants were located in the North and Central (69%) or other (27%) regions of the United States (US), with 4% located outside of the US. As for utility, 54% of participants reported using the diagrams to study for medical school coursework or board examinations, and 42% of responses indicated non-medical use of the diagrams, such as leisure viewing or reviewing for their occupation. Free-form responses (n=65) were coded into categories characterizing the utility of the diagrams: 1) color-coding (12.3%), 2) simplicity (43%), and 3) style (24.6%) (P=0.0025).
We demonstrate that supplemental resources shared via social media have the potential to be widely used by students, specifically by those 18-30 years. The inherent flexibility of social media is how consumers preferred to utilize information. Qualitative data indicated presentation style largely impacts how resources are utilized by students, as an overwhelming majority report gaining unique information from this resource.
Social media platforms can be used by educators to disseminate accurate supplemental materials to students. Anatomy educators should consider utilizing social media to fill gaps in anatomy education to provide accurate and accessible resources.
Motzko M, Dennis JF. The Utility of Anatomical Diagrams Shared on Social Media. The FASEB Journal. 2022; 36(S1). doi: 10.1096/fasebj.2022.36.S1.R2119.