Social Media Use by Health Care Professionals and Trainees: A Scoping Review

Hamm, Michele P. PhD; Chisholm, Annabritt; Shulhan, Jocelyn; Milne, Andrea MLIS; Scott, Shannon D. PhD; Klassen, Terry P. MD, MSc; Hartling, Lisa PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31829eb91c
Reviews

Purpose: To conduct a scoping review of the literature on social media use by health care professionals and trainees.

Method: The authors searched MEDLINE, CENTRAL, ERIC, PubMed, CINAHL Plus Full Text, Academic Search Complete, Alt Health Watch, Health Source, Communication and Mass Media Complete, Web of Knowledge, and ProQuest for studies published between 2000 and 2012. They included those reporting primary research on social media use by health care professionals or trainees. Two reviewers screened studies for eligibility; one reviewer extracted data and a second verified a 10% sample. They analyzed data descriptively to determine which social media tools were used, by whom, for what purposes, and how they were evaluated.

Results: The authors included 96 studies in their review. Discussion forums were the most commonly studied tools (43/96; 44.8%). Researchers more often studied social media in educational than practice settings. Of common specialties, administration, critical appraisal, and research appeared most often (11/96; 11.5%), followed by public health (9/96; 9.4%). The objective of most tools was to facilitate communication (59/96; 61.5%) or improve knowledge (41/96; 42.7%). Thirteen studies evaluated effectiveness (13.5%), and 41 (42.7%) used a cross-sectional design.

Conclusions: These findings provide a map of the current literature on social media use in health care, identify gaps in that literature, and provide direction for future research. Social media use is widespread, particularly in education settings. The versatility of these tools suggests their suitability for use in a wide range of professional activities. Studies of their effectiveness could inform future practice.

Dr. Hamm is research associate, Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Ms. Chisholm is research student, Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Ms. Shulhan is research student, Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Mrs. Milne is research librarian, Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Dr. Scott is associate professor, Faculty of Nursing, and associate professor (adjunct), Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Dr. Klassen is professor, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, and director of research, Manitoba Institute of Child Health, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Dr. Hartling is director, Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, and assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Funding/Support: M.P.H. was supported by a KT Canada Fellowship Award from Knowledge Translation Canada. This study was supported in part by a Knowledge Synthesis Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Other disclosures: None.

Ethical approval: Not applicable.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A140 and http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A141.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Hamm, 4-482B Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, 11405-87 Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 1C9; telephone: (780) 492-1241; e-mail: michele.hamm@ualberta.ca.

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges