MANUSCRIPT: Social media beliefs and usage among family medicine residents and practicing family physicians.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
Incorporation of social media (SM) use in medicine is gaining support. The Internet is now a popular medium for people to solicit medical information. Usage of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, is growing daily and provides physicians with nearly instantaneous access to large populations for both marketing and patient education. The benefits are myriad, but so are the inherent risks. We investigated the role providers’ age and medical experience played in their beliefs and use of SM in medicine.
Using multiple state-wide and national databases, we assessed social media use by family medicine residents, faculty, and practicing family physicians with a 24-question online survey. Descriptive data is compared by age and level of medical experience.
A total of 61 family medicine residents and 192 practicing family physicians responded. There is a trend toward higher SM utilization in the younger cohort, with 90% of resident respondents reporting using SM, half of them daily. A total of 64% of family physician respondents over the age of 45 have a SM account. An equal percentage of senior physicians use SM daily or not at all. Practicing physicians, more than residents, agree that SM can be beneficial in patient care. The vast majority of residents and physicians polled believe that SM should be taught early in medical education.
The high utilization of SM by younger providers, high prevalence of patient use of the Internet, and the countless beneficial opportunities SM offers should be catalysts to drive curriculum development and early implementation in medical education. This curriculum should focus around four pillars: professional standards for SM use, SM clinical practice integration, professional networking, and research.