Social media guidelines: a review for health professionals and faculty members

Catherine M. Hennessy, Claire F. Smith, Sue Greener, Gordon Ferns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The rising societal use of social media has encouraged health professionals to use social media in their professional activities; however, this can be a daunting task, particularly for those who are uncertain about the boundaries for the professional use of social media. This article summarises the guidelines provided by medical governing bodies on social media use and provides practical advice on how social media can be used, which is transferrable across the health professions. Methods: Nine guidance documents published by medical governing bodies in major international English-speaking countries were reviewed and analysed to identify their key common messages. Findings: Five key themes were identified across all of the guidance documents, as follows: maintain patient confidentiality; defamation is unacceptable; privacy cannot be guaranteed; responsibility to maintain public trust; and reasons to use social media. Conclusions: The guidelines predominantly focus on the risks of using social media. Although this is necessary, it is likely to inhibit the exploration of the potential uses of social media in health care education and practice. All of the guidance documents from governing bodies encourage the use of social media to engage with patients and to network with colleagues; however, there is relatively little practical guidance on how to use social media as a health professional. This article offers some practical advice for faculty members who wish to run development sessions on how to use social media for professional purposes. … there is relatively little practical guidance on how to use social media as a health professional.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-447
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Teacher
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2019


Cite this