A recently published literature review aims to shed light on social media use worldwide and to discuss how it has been used as an essential tool in the health care industry from the perspective of healthcare professionals.
A literature review conducted between March and April 2020 is the latest most up to date reviews of the uses of social media in healthcare, including the use of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on 158 studies, conducted in the United States (61), Canada (12), Brazil (2), the United Kingdom (12), Europe (22), the Middle East (9), India (9), Asia (8), and Australia (7), most of the reviewed articles were published over the past decade.
The findings presented in this review have implications for health care professionals, educators, and researchers.
As of August 4, 2020, 27,546 results appeared when searching for social media on PubMed, demonstrating the growing interest in SM within the health care industry.
Social media (SM) brings a new dimension to health care and is changing the nature and speed of health-related interactions between individuals and health organizations.
Healthcare professionals (HCPs)and health organizations should capitalize on the opportunities provided by SM and update strategies to reach communities and age cohorts at a relatively low cost.
Advantages of using SM in health care include accessibility from a smartphone, prompt content sharing and response generation, two-way communication,ability to forge connections between people, ability to reach large masses regardless of geographic location, age, or education, compared with traditional communication methods.
The most influential advantage of SM remains its cost-benefit feature: it can reach an increasing number of people without the high cost of traditional means and the information remains available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In health care, SM tools can be used for different purposes (health promotion; dissemination of health information; education; professional development; recruitment; communication with the public, colleagues, and patients; and research) and in diverse medical specialties (cardiology, nursing, radiology, dentistry, surgery, pathology, pediatrics, pharmacy, emergency, and critical and palliative care).
Using SM could be a key strategy in addressing some of the challenges and limitations often faced by HCPs in traditional health communication through faster and cheaper dissemination, more accessibility, better interaction, and increased patient empowerment.
Those who choose to use SM should be aware of the potential risks and problems that they could encounter but should not shy away from using SM because it can greatly increase the reach and impact of HCPs’ work and improve patients’ health.