Many Docs Use Social Media to Find, Share Medical Data

Perceived ease of use, usefulness are main factors influencing docs to share medical information

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Most physicians use social media on at least a weekly basis, and report that it improves the quality of patient care they deliver, according to a study published in the September/October issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Brian S. McGowan, Ph.D., an education technology consultant in Blue Bell, Pa., and colleagues used a survey instrument based on the Technology Acceptance Model to examine physicians' attitudes to social media, perceptions about its usefulness and ease of use, and personal attributes such as innovativeness. Responses from 485 practicing oncologists and primary care physicians were analyzed (response rate, approximately 29 percent of random sample).

The researchers found that, on a daily basis, 24.1 percent of respondents used social media at least once to scan or explore medical information, and 14.2 percent used social media to contribute new information. On a weekly basis, 61.0 percent scanned and 46.0 percent contributed information. For 57.5 percent of respondents, social media was perceived as beneficial, engaging, and a good way to access high-quality, current information. Most respondents stated that social media helped them care for patients more effectively (57.9 percent) or improved the quality of care they delivered (60.0 percent). Perceived ease of use and usefulness were the main factors influencing a physician's usage of social media to share medical information with others. Those with positive attitudes toward social media were more likely to use and share medical information via social media. Age and gender had no impact on social media use.

"This study demonstrates that the adoption of social media to exchange information and medical knowledge with other physicians is strongly dependent on the perceived usefulness of the technology and the general attitudes physicians have toward the value these technologies offer," the authors write.

The study was funded by Pfizer.

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