Social media in medicine has been a concern for research. Most of the studies conducted to date revolve around security and ethical concerns related to patient-specific information sharing on the Internet and physicians’ need to maintain professionalism online.
Cancer management requires coordinated care from many health care providers, and its complexity requires physicians to be up to date on current research. The complex field of oncology will benefit from improved use of online social media to enhance physician communication, education, and mentorship. To facilitate this, one must better understand patterns of social media use among oncologists.
The study focused on a nine-item survey investigating physician social media use, designed using online survey software, distributed via email to 680 oncology physicians and physicians in Canada training.
The study received 207 responses (30%); 72% of respondents reported using social media. Social media use was highest, at 93%, in respondents aged 25 to 34 years and lowest, at 39%, in those aged 45 to 54 years. The main barrier to use was the lack of free time.
The identified gap in social media use between age groups may have negative implications for communication in oncology. Investigations to understand social media use barriers should be undertaken to enhance physician collaboration and knowledge sharing over social media.