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Dangers and Opportunities for Social Media in Medicine

GEORGE, DANIEL R. MSc, MD, PhD*; ROVNIAK, LIZA S. PhD, MPH; KRASCHNEWSKI, JENNIFER L. MD, MPH

Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology: September 2013 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 453–462
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e318297dc38
Medical Applications of Digital Media

Health professionals have begun using social media to benefit patients, enhance professional networks, and advance understanding of individual and contextual factors influencing public health. However, discussion of the dangers of these technologies in medicine has overwhelmed consideration of positive applications. This article summarizes the hazards of social media in medicine and explores how changes in functionality on sites like Facebook may make these technologies less perilous for health professionals. Finally, it describes the most promising avenues through which professionals can use social media in medicine—improving patient communication, enhancing professional development, and contributing to public health research and service.

Departments of *Humanities;

Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Penn State Hershey College of Medicine;

Departments of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Supported in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Health Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program (417-41 HY 82NC) awarded to L.S.R. and J.L.K., NIH grant R00 HL088017 awarded to L.S.R., and NIH grants UL1RR033184 and KL2RR033180 awarded to J.L.K.

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Pennsylvania Department of Health or the National Institutes of Health.

The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.

Correspondence: Daniel R. George, MSc, MD, PhD, Department of Humanities, Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA. E-mail: drg21@psu.edu

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.