In a Research Letter in JAMA, Dr. Chretien et al describe the profile of physicians in the Twitter universe, specifically focusing on professionalism.
- Self identified physician
- At least 500 followers during May 1-31, 2010 (Whew, I only have 309 followers.)
- English tweets
- Posted a tweet within last 6 months
- 6.2% were from Emergency Medicine.
- 15% (most) were from Surgery and its subspecialties.
- 76% were from the United States.
Three physicians independently coded the 20 most recent tweets from each account (total n= 5,156) for unprofessional content. There were 144 (3%) unprofessional tweets from 27 users:
- 55 (1%) – possible conflict of interest, advocating for non-standard therapies
- 38 (0.7%) – potentially violation of patient privacy
- 33 (0.6%) – profanity
- 14 (0.3%) – sexually explicit material
- 4 (0.1%) – discriminatory statement
- 25 of 27 (92%) of users were identifiable
The authors conclude that, although rare, there should be more physician accountability and guidelines in the age of social media. This is even more true, since I just discovered that all tweets are archived by the Library of Congress!
Take a look at your most recent tweets. How would they have performed if you were included in this study?
Chretien KC, Azar J, Kind T. Physicians on Twitter. JAMA: The journal of the American Medical Association. 2011. 305(6), 566-8. PMID: 21304081.