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Health Commun. 2016 Jul;31(7):824-32. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2015.1007551. Epub 2015 Dec 7.

Just What the Doctor Tweeted: Physicians' Challenges and Rewards of Using Twitter.

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a Department of Communication , George Mason University.


More than 75,000 health care professionals worldwide share information and discuss treatments on Twitter, making it one of the most popular and influential social media sites for health. This engaging medium has enormous potential for establishing relationships and disseminating information among physicians, their colleagues, and patients. However, little is known about how physicians navigate Twitter and what challenges and benefits come from using the platform. By conducting in-depth interviews with 17 physicians who interact with Twitter at least once per week, it was revealed that physicians overcome concerns of privacy and time constraints to learn and share new research, connect with colleagues, manage online personas, and develop relationships with patients on a new level that goes beyond the typical office visit. Implications include the possibility of enriched patient-provider relationships due to physicians divulging opinions and personal information in a public forum to minimize established power structures and enable better communication. This exploratory study establishes that Twitter is fertile ground for future research to explore how the medium can influence patient behavior, alter attitudes, and influence communication between patients and providers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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