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Original Article

Influence of social media on urologic knowledge acquisition among young urologists in Saudi Arabia

Azhar, Raed A.; Subahi, Mohnna S.1; Badr, Hattan1; Buksh, Omar2; Khawaji, Abdullah3; Yamni, Ahmed K.4; Amoudi, Ghada Ahmad5; Nassir, Anmar6,

Author Information
doi: 10.4103/ua.ua_38_21
  • Open

Abstract

INTRODUCTION

With the new technologies being extensively used in the field of medicine, this use of new technology led to exploration of new modalities that had an impact either in diagnosis or in the treatment or both. It is noted that physicians are using social media to find better ways for improving their knowledge.[1]

Through social media, a health practitioner can share appropriate health information, direct people, alert them about common misleading information, publish scientific research, communicate with colleagues, market their products, or attend medical conferences.

There are some health-care professionals using social media to communicate with their patients in different ways that ensure and enhance their clinical care and provide medical practitioners with tools that help to keep themselves updated with new information.[23]

Young urologists in Saudi Arabia get benefit from the development of social media and mostly online to update and increase their information consistently. Urologists have joined this technology where they can browse medical journals, listen and consult the experts, and be informed about developments and evolutions in the medical field.

This survey reveals how urologists in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia use social media as an educational tool and how they utilize and develop its use in the proper way.

METHODS

An 18-item online questionnaire was designed and conducted at survemonkey.com. The survey was distributed via emails and WhatsApp to urology communities in Saudi Arabia. Young urologists and urology residents were targeted in this questionnaire. The design and distribution of the survey was carried out according to the guidelines of Cherries. Given the quantitative nature of the study data, Excel was used for the analysis of the collected data.

RESULTS

A total of 104 young Saudi urologists responded to our survey, among which 15 were recently graduated and board certified, and 89 were residents under training, of which 39 were in senior levels postgraduate year (PGY) 4, PGY5, and recently graduated, the mean age of participants was 29.6 years. Participants were mostly familiar with the use of Twitter (86%), followed closely by YouTube (82%) and then Snapchat and Instagram (73% and 63% respectively). Twitter and YouTube were equally and most frequently used in a professional way by 56% each, followed by Google+ [Figure 1]. While Snapchat, followed by Twitter, was the most social media application used for personal purposes, although 79% of participants did not have an updated professional social media account.

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Figure 1:
Social media used in a professional way

A large portion of participants (72%) believe that social media has a moderate-to-high influence on their urology knowledge, [Figure 2]. Twitter was ranked second after urology books and before urology journals, as the most frequently used for knowledge update, [Figure 3].

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Figure 2:
Influence of social media on urology knowledge in young urologists
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Figure 3:
Social media platforms used for knowledge update

YouTube was by far the most used source to watch and understand surgical skills, followed by reference books and websites [Figure 4].

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Figure 4:
Mostly used tools to understand surgical techniques

Sixty-seven percent of young urologists follow urological events on social medial, 72% follow urological associations, 81% follow urology experts in social media, and 56% follow urological journals on social media, as presented in Figure 5.

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Figure 5:
Percentages of participants following professional organizations and experts on social media

While 28% of the participants believe that urologists are most influential in social media, as shown in Figure 6, surprisingly, only 30% of the participants have read the guidelines on the appropriate use of social media in urology.

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Figure 6:
Resources that were considered by participants as the most influential on their urologic knowledge

DISCUSSION

Communication channels have changed dramatically with the advent of Web 2.0 tools. Social media platforms allow sharing various types of information with heterogeneous population in real time. These characteristics created new themes of learning in an unprecedented way. This study showed how young urologists use social media to connect with professionals, expand their knowledge, and develop their skills. A large portion of the study’s participants are familiar with social media platforms, with Twitter being the most familiar platform to 86% of them, while Facebook was the least familiar to the participants. While the majority of the participants do not have a dedicated professional social media account, most of them believe that social media has a moderate-to-high influence on their urology knowledge, with more than half of them (56%) use YouTube and Twitter for professional purposes. In addition, around half of the participants use YouTube to learn new techniques, and little less than quarter of them use Twitter for knowledge update. These ratios clearly indicate a strong trend toward using social media in professional life. Moreover, approximately one-third of young urologists from our sample think that urologists are more influential in social media than in journals, books, and conferences. Nevertheless, only 30% have read the guidelines on the appropriate use of social media in urology.

Comparing these results with other studies’ findings, in our sample, around 70% of respondents have not read the guidelines, a similar result was declared in previous studies,[4] as the authors stated that more than half of social media users were not familiar with professional social media guidelines. The study justifies this phenomenon by the reasons of not seeing any value and not wanting invasion of privacy. Regarding the most used social media platform for professional purposes, YouTube was the most used platform, since 56% of the sample used it in professional practice. This also coincided with the findings of previous study,[5] as the study’s results showed that YouTube is the most used platform for professional use (63%). In previous study,[5] however, the second most used platform was LinkedIn, whereas in our case, Twitter scored the same percentage as YouTube (56%).

The implications of these results can be summarized as follows:

  1. Social media is highly adopted by young urologists, professional organizations, such as journals, conferences, and hospitals should keep this in mind when marketing for events, submissions, jobs, or any other service
  2. Young urologists use YouTube to learn surgical skills more than any other source. This suggests that schools should not underestimate the value of providing a good quality learning management systems to support self-learning using various media.

Finally, the knowledge of the guidelines for appropriate use of social media for urologists should be encouraged by providing various summaries or infographics to communicate the information in an easier and smoother way, as illustrated in previous study.[6]

CONCLUSION

Social media are promising tools for more interesting and interactive health educational experience and can actively facilitate in the delivery of health care. Social media has contributed to the spread of medical information among the urology community and outside the urology community as well, once social media will be more actively utilized by local medical organizations and institutions, extensive impact to both physicians and patients will be achieved, and easier spread of medical knowledge to all involved. For future work, this study should be conducted again, to monitor and compare the progression of usage among urologists. We anticipate that the behavior might have increased dramatically due to COVID-19 pandemic, as most online recourses witnessed a significant surge in use and interaction. Thus, repeating this survey or a similar one would provide valuable insight to maximize utilization of this rich resource for information diffusion and knowledge sharing.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

REFERENCES

1. Long X, Qi L, Ou Z, Zu X, Cao Z, Zeng X, et al Evolving use of social media among Chinese urologists:Opportunity or challenge? Plos One 2017 12 e0181895
2. Rodríguez-Socarrás ME, Gómez-Rivas J, Álvarez-Maestro M, Tortolero L, Ribal MJ, Garcia Sanz M, et al Spanish adaptation of the recommendations for the appropriate use of Social Networks in Urology of the European Association of Urology Actas Urol Esp 2016 40 417–23
3. Pizzuti AG, Patel KH, Mccreary EK, Heil E, Bland CM, Chinaeke E, et al Healthcare practitioners'views of social media as an educational resource Plos One 2020 15 e0228372
4. Loeb S, Carrick T, Frey C, Titus T Increasing social media use in urology:2017 American Urological Association Survey Eur Urol Focus 2020 6 605–8
5. Rivas JG, Socarras MR, Patruno G, Uvin P, Esperto F, Dinis PJ, et al Perceived role of social media in urologic knowledge acquisition among young urologists:A European survey Eur Urol Focus 2018 4 768–73
6. Borgmann H, Cooperberg M, Murphy D, Loeb S, N'dow J, Ribal MJ, et al Online professionalism-2018 update of European Association of Urology (@uroweb) recommendations on the appropriate use of social media Eur Urol 2018 74 644–50
Keywords:

Knowledge acquisition; social media; urologist

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