Reddit Users' Questions and Concerns about Anesthesia


  • Khalid El-Jack Perelman School of Medicine
  • Korey Henderson Perelman School of Medicine
  • Anietie U. Andy Center for Digital Health, University of Pennsylvania
  • Lauren Southwick Center for Digital Health, University of Pennsylvania



Social Media, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Anesthesia


Background: Patients utilize social media in search of support networks. Reddit is one of the most popular social media sites and allows users to anonymously connect. Anesthesia patients are actively using Reddit to discuss their treatment options and experiences within the medical system.

Methods: Posts published on an active Reddit forum on Anesthesia (i.e., /r/Anesthesia) were used. Big Query was used to collect posts from /r/Anesthesia. We collected 3,288 posts published between December 2015 and August 2019. We collected a control group of 3,288 posts from a Reddit forum not related to Anesthesia. Using latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) we extracted 20 topics from our data set. The LDA topic themes most associated with posts in /r/Anesthesia compared to the control group were determined.

Results: LDA analysis of posts in /r/Anesthesia relative to a control group produced 6 distinct categories of posts (Table 1). The posts most associated with /r/Anesthesia when compared to a control group were posts belonging to the “Physician-Patient Experience” category (Cohen’s d= 0.389) while the posts least associated with /r/Anesthesia were from the “Uncertainties” category of posts (Cohen’s d= 0.147). Example experiences from members of the /r/Anesthesia forum highlight subjective experiences of patients undergoing anesthesia.

Conclusions: The language used on social media can provide insights into an individual's experience with anesthesia and inform physicians about patient concerns. Anesthesiologists are poised to address these concerns and prevent anonymous misinformation by providing verified physician insights on the forum /r/Anesthesia.


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2022-12-31 — Updated on 2023-02-20


How to Cite

El-Jack, K., Henderson, K., Andy, A. U., & Southwick, L. (2023). Reddit Users’ Questions and Concerns about Anesthesia. International Journal of Medical Students, 10(4), 370–374. (Original work published December 31, 2022)



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