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    #TreatmentResistantDepression: a qualitative content analysis of Tweets about difficult-to-treat depression

    Talbot, Amelia, Ford, Tori, Ryan, Sara ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7406-1610, Mahtani, Kamal R and Albury, Charlotte (2023) #TreatmentResistantDepression: a qualitative content analysis of Tweets about difficult-to-treat depression. Health Expectations. ISSN 1369-6513

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    Abstract

    Introduction Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is depression unresponsive to antidepressants and affects 55% of British primary care users with depression. Current evidence is from secondary care, but long referral times mean general practitioners (GPs) manage TRD. Studies show that people with depression use Twitter to form community and document symptoms. However, Twitter remains a largely unexplored space of documented patient experience. Twitter data could provide valuable insights into learning about primary care experiences of TRD. In this study, we explored Twitter comments and conversations about TRD and produced patient-driven recommendations. Methods Tweets from UK-based users were collected manually and using a browser extension in June 2021. Conventional content analysis was used to provide an overview of the Tweets, followed by interpretation to understand why Twitter may be important to people with TRD. Results A total of 415 Tweets were organised into five clusters: self-diagnosis, symptoms, support, small wins and condition experts. These Tweets were interpreted as showing Twitter as a community for people with TRD. People had a collective sense of illness identity and were united in their experiences of TRD. However, users in the community also highlighted the absence of effective GP care, leading users to position themselves as condition experts. Users shared advice from a place of lived experience with the community but also shared potentially harmful information, including recommendations about nonevidence-based medications. Conclusions Findings illuminate the benefits of the TRD Twitter community and also highlight that the perception of a lack of knowledge and support from GPs may lead community members to advise nonevidenced-based medications. Patient and Public Contribution This study was led by a person with lived experience of TRD and bipolar. Two public contributors with mental health conditions gave feedback on our study protocol and results.

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