Professional use of social media by pharmacists

TitleProfessional use of social media by pharmacists
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBarry AR, Pearson GJ
JournalCan J Hosp Pharm
Date Published01–02/2015

BACKGROUND: A recent trend among health care professionals is the use of social media for professional purposes. These rapidly expanding media allow for timely and efficient access to health information, but they also carry the potential for increased liability. There is a paucity of research detailing how health care professionals, specifically pharmacists, use social media.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the use of social media by pharmacists in the Canadian province of Alberta and to identify independent determinants of and perceived barriers to using social media for professional purposes.

METHODS: Data for this mixed-methods study were collected by an online survey in March and April 2014. Alberta pharmacists were invited to participate via e-mail distributed by 2 professional organizations.

RESULTS: The survey had 273 respondents. Of these, 226 (82.8%) stated that they had a social media account for either personal or professional purposes, and 138 (61.1%) of these reported using social media for professional purposes, although most respondents used social media predominantly for personal reasons. The most commonly reported social media applications were Facebook and Twitter, accessed primarily via smartphones. Of the 273 respondents, 206 (75.5%) had a Facebook account, and 101 (49.0%) of these used Facebook to some extent for professional purposes. Twitter users (104 [38.1%] of respondents) had a higher rate of professional utilization (57/104 [54.8%]). The most commonly identified barrier to using social media for professional purposes was concern over liability. Positive predictors of use of social media for professional purposes included younger age and fewer years of professional experience. Participants perceived the most beneficial aspect of social media (in professional terms) as connecting with pharmacist colleagues.

CONCLUSION: More than 80% of pharmacists in Alberta reported that they had a social media account, and over half of them reported using their accounts for professional purposes. Although Facebook had a higher reported rate of utilization in general, a greater proportion of respondents reported using Twitter for professional purposes. Individuals and organizations seeking to expand their professional social media presence should focus on Twitter.

Alternate JournalCan J Hosp Pharm
PubMed ID25762816
PubMed Central IDPMC4350495