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 journalArticlepeer-review


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 professionals.
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 lastly reasons to use social media.
Conclusion The guidelines predominantly focus on the risks of using social media. Whilst this is necessary, it is likely to inhibit the exploration of the potential uses of social media in healthcare 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.

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

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Hennessy, C.M., Smith, C.F., Greener, S. and Ferns, G. (2019), Social media guidelines: a review for health professionals and faculty members. Clin Teach, 16: 442-447, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/tct.13033. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


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