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.


Gottschalk A, Van Aken H, Zenz M, Standl T. [Is anesthesia dangerous?]. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011;108(27):469-474. German.

Smith G, D'Cruz JR, Rondeau B, Goldman J. General Anesthesia for Surgeons. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

Eberhart L, Aust H, Schuster M, Sturm T, Gehling M, Euteneuer F, et al. Preoperative anxiety in adults - a cross-sectional study on specific fears and risk factors. BMC Psychiatry. 2020;20(1):140. DOI:

Walker EMK, Bell M, Cook TM, Grocott MPW, Moonesinghe SR. Patient reported outcome of adult perioperative anaesthesia in the United Kingdom: a cross-sectional observational study. Br J Anaesth. 2016;117(6):758-766. DOI:

Celik F, Edipoglu IS. Evaluation of preoperative anxiety and fear of anesthesia using APAIS score. Eur J Med Res. 2018;23(1):41. DOI:

Rupert DJ, Moultrie RR, Read JG, Amoozegar JB, Bornkessel AS, O'Donoghue AC, et al. Perceived healthcare provider reactions to patient and caregiver use of online health communities. Patient Educ Couns. 2014;96(3):320-326. DOI:

Asch JM, Asch DA, Klinger EV, Marks J, Sadek N, Merchant RM. Google search histories of patients presenting to an emergency department: an observational study. BMJ Open. 2019;9(2):e024791. DOI:

Chen J, Wang Y. Social Media Use for Health Purposes: Systematic Review. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23(5):e17917. DOI:

Sumayyia MD, Al-Madaney MM, Almousawi FH. Health information on social media. Perceptions, attitudes, and practices of patients and their companions. Saudi Med J. 2019;40(12):1294-1298. DOI:

Surani Z, Hirani R, Elias A, Quisenberry L, Varon J, Surani S, et al. Social media usage among health care providers. BMC Res Notes. 2017;10(1):654. DOI:

ReferralMD. 24 stats on how social media has impacted the healthcare industry. Available from: Last updated May 9, 2022.

Statista. Facebook: quarterly number of MAU worldwide 2008-2022. Available from: Last updated October 27, 2022.

Statista. Instagram: number of global users 2020-2025. Available from: Last updated May 23, 2022.

Grajales FJ 3rd, Sheps S, Ho K, Novak-Lauscher H, Eysenbach G. Social media: a review and tutorial of applications in medicine and health care. J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(2):e13. DOI:

Wong XL, Liu RC, Sebaratnam DF. Evolving role of Instagram in #medicine. Intern Med J. 2019;49(10):1329-1332. DOI:

Han GK, Zhu D, Kothari N. Strategic use of Twitter as a source of health information: a pilot study with textual analysis of health tweets. Inform Health Soc Care. 2019;44(4):422-437. DOI:

Kong W, Song S, Zhao YC, Zhu Q, Sha L. TikTok as a Health Information Source: Assessment of the Quality of Information in Diabetes-Related Videos. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23(9):e30409. DOI:

Thomas J, Prabhu AV, Heron DE, Beriwal S. Reddit and Radiation Therapy: A Descriptive Analysis of Posts and Comments Over 7 Years by Patients and Health Care Professionals. Adv Radiat Oncol. 2019;4(2):345-353. DOI:

Foufi V, Timakum T, Gaudet-Blavignac C, Lovis C, Song M. Mining of Textual Health Information from Reddit: Analysis of Chronic Diseases With Extracted Entities and Their Relations. J Med Internet Res. 2019;21(6):e12876. DOI:

Andy A. Understanding user communication around loneliness on online forums. PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0257791. DOI:

Andy A, Andy U. Understanding Communication in an Online Cancer Forum: Content Analysis Study. JMIR Cancer. 2021;7(3):e29555. DOI:

Andy AU, Guntuku SC, Adusumalli S, Asch DA, Groeneveld PW, Ungar LH, et al. Predicting Cardiovascular Risk Using Social Media Data: Performance Evaluation of Machine-Learning Models. JMIR Cardio. 2021;5(1):e24473. DOI:

Okon E, Rachakonda V, Hong HJ, Callison-Burch C, Lipoff JB. Natural language processing of Reddit data to evaluate dermatology patient experiences and therapeutics. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020;83(3):803-808. DOI:

Record RA, Silberman WR, Santiago JE, Ham T. I Sought It, I Reddit: Examining Health Information Engagement Behaviors among Reddit Users. J Health Commun. 2018;23(5):470-476. DOI:

Fernandes S, Bernardino J. What is bigquery? Poster presented at: 19th International Database Engineering & Applications Symposium; 2015 July 13-15; Yokohama, Japan. DOI:

Blei, D.M., Ng, A.Y. and Jordan, M.I. Latent Dirichlet Allocation. J Mach Learn Res. 2003;3:993-1022

Tylee MJ, Rubenfeld GD, Wijeysundera D, Sklar MC, Hussain S, Adhikari NKJ. Anesthesiologist to Patient Communication: A Systematic Review. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(11):e2023503. DOI:

Sehmbi H, Wong J, Wong D. Perspectives on ambulatory anesthesia: the patient’s point of view. Ambulatory Anesthesia. 2015;2:1-9 DOI:

Beaulieu P. [Anesthetic implications of recreational drug use]. Can J Anaesth. 2017;64(12):1236-1264. Canadian French. DOI:

Moran S, Isa J, Steinemann S. Perioperative management in the patient with substance abuse. Surg Clin North Am. 2015;95(2):417-428. DOI:

George RB, Lozada MJ. [Anesthesiologists, it's time to get social!]. Can J Anaesth. 2017;64(12):1169-1175. Canadian French. DOI:

Schwenk ES, Chu LF, Gupta RK, Mariano ER. How Social Media is Changing the Practice of Regional Anesthesiology. Curr Anesthesiol Rep. 2017;7(2):238-245. DOI:

Kiran S, Sethi N. Anaesthesiologist and social media: Walking the fine line. Indian J Anaesth. 2018;62(10):743-746. DOI:


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)



Original Article


Most read articles by the same author(s)

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.