Social Media and Health: Current and Future Healthcare Provider Perspectives
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Objective: As over 80% of active United States internet users are using social media (SM) sites, it is important for healthcare students (HCS) and healthcare professionals (HCP) to become educated on proper SM usage behaviors to effectively understand and apply SM policies. This research was designed to examine HCS and HCP motivations for utilizing SM sites, to determine the concerns HCS and HCP have with SM usage, and if these concerns are being addressed through SM policies and education. Methods: In 2012, 4370 HCS and 4269 HCP from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center participated in the Institutional Review Board approved online survey. Of those contacted, 187 HCS and 180 HCP completed the survey. Applying uses and gratifications theory, the authors conducted a mixed method survey and analyzed HCS and HCP motivations for utilizing SM sites and the concerns associated with SM usage, while simultaneously analyzing whether concerns are being addressed through SM policies and education. Results: Analysis reveals HCS and HCP were motivated by social entertainment, convenience of information, and professional self-expression. In addition, HCS and HCP top concerns associated with SM use in a professional and academic setting are patient privacy. This study also indicates HCP was more aware of their institutional SM policies. Yet, both view SM policies necessary to help educate them on effective SM use. Analysis of the qualitative responses reveals HCS and HCP’s top concerns with SM usage are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violations and patient privacy. Conclusion: This study offers insight into HCS’ and HCP’ SM motivations and behaviors. It also expands on issues HCS and HCP have with SM usage and if SM policies effectively address these concerns. Future research should examine if and how patients use SM when seeking health information and analyze patient’s opinion of HCS’ and HCP’ usage of SM sites.