Anaesthetists’ use and ethical and legal knowledge of social media
Background: The exact role social media has in healthcare is still being defined. The aim of this study is to describe how anaesthetists are currently using social media and their knowledge of ethical and legal aspects relating to its use.
Methods: A prospective, contextual, descriptive research design was followed. The study population consisted of all anaesthetists working in the Department of Anaesthesiology at the University of the Witwatersrand. A convenience sampling method was used. Data were collected in the form of a self-administered questionnaire.
Results: Of 170 questionnaires that were distributed, 159 were completed. Social media is used by 135 (84.9%) participants both personally and professionally. Eight (5%) participants do not use social media at all. Facebook was the most commonly used platform for personal use (n = 121; 80.1%). For professional use, restricted online professional communities were the most commonly used (n = 92; 57.9%). Participants younger than 42 years used social media for personal reasons significantly more frequently than participants aged 42 years or older (p = 0.001). Only nine (5.7%) participants had adequate knowledge of ethical and legal aspects.
Conclusion: The large proportion of participants using social media demonstrate it has a role personally, as well as professionally. It was affirmed that there is potential for social media to enhance the profession of anaesthesiology. The lack of knowledge regarding ethical and legal aspects needs to be addressed. It is essential for doctors that, from an early point in their careers, social media guidelines are ingrained to protect themselves and their patients from potential harm.
The full article is available at https://doi.org/10.36303/SAJAA.2020.26.6.2340
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