Introduction: With the increasing volume of medical literature published each year, it is difficult for clinicians to translate the latest research into practice. Awareness is the first step of knowledge translation and journals have begun using social media to increase the dissemination and awareness of their publications. Infographics can describe research findings visually, are shared broadly on social media, and may be a more effective way to convey information. We hypothesized that infographic abstracts would increase the social media dissemination and online readership of research articles relative to traditional abstracts. Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, 24 original research articles were chosen from the six issues of the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine (CJEM) published between July 2016 and May 2017 (4 articles per issue). Half were randomized to the infographic and control groups within each issue. Infographic articles were promoted using a visual infographic outlining the findings of the article. Control articles were promoted using a screen capture image of each articles abstract. Both were disseminated through the journals social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) along with the link to the selected article. Infographics were also published on CanadiEM.org. Abstract views, full text views, and the change in Altmetric score were tracked for 30 days and compared between groups. Unpaired two-tailed t-tests were used to detect significant differences. Results: Abstract views (mean, SD) were significantly higher for infographic articles (378.9, 162.0) than control articles (175.5, 69.2, p<0.001). Mean Altmetric scores were significantly higher for infographic articles (26.4, 13.8) than control articles (3.4, 1.7, p<0.0001). There was no statistically significant difference in full-text views between infographic (49.7, 90.4) and control articles (25.3, 12.3). Conclusion: CJEM articles promoted on social media using infographics had higher abstract viewership and Altmetric scores than those promoted with traditional abstracts. Although there was no difference in full-text readership, our results suggest that infographic abstracts may have a role in increasing the dissemination of medical literature.
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