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PURPOSE: Social media adds to the traditional methods of research dissemination. It allows researchers and publishers to immediately share content directly with interested end users on a global scale. Alternative metrics (altmetrics) are new bibliometrics that describe article-level activity on platforms such as Twitter, Wikipedia, and online news media. Altmetrics are strongly associated with citation counts in numerous medical disciplines. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of altmetrics to citation counts in the field of hand surgery. METHODS: Altmetric Explorer was used to extract data on altmetrics and citation rates for articles published in 2017 in 6 prominent hand surgery journals. Multivariable negative binomial regression was used to estimate the relationship between citation counts and predictors (presented as the incidence rate ratio with a 95% confidence interval [CI]). RESULTS: Overall, 624 articles were included. Mentions on social media platforms were independently associated with more citations (adjusted incidence rate ratio 1.04 [95% CI 1.02-1.05]). The factor that most influenced the rate of citations was the journal in which the article was published; articles in the Journal of Hand Surgery had at least 1 more citation than articles published elsewhere (median difference 3 [interquartile range {IQR} 2-3]) and had a median Altmetric Attention Score which was 3 points higher (IQR 2-3) than articles published elsewhere. CONCLUSIONS: The dissemination of hand surgery research through social media channels is associated with substantial and measurable improvements in short-term citation rates CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Social media appears to be a valuable tool for communicating important research directly to hand surgeons in a timely and succinct manner.

Original publication




Journal article


J Hand Surg Am

Publication Date



Altmetrics, Facebook, SoMe, Social media, Twitter, citations