Social Media Versus Your Degree

Sharing Research-Supported, Unbiased Information

This article will discuss the challenges of social media distribution of health information.

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Sharing Research-Supported, Unbiased Information

Professional healthcare entities are faced with false depictions of their expertise in the media. Social media is flooded with self-proclaimed medical experts advising remedies for weight loss, infections, and even childbirth. Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers can use social media to influence health maintenance positively, promote quality healthcare, and debunk misinformation. 

Personal Empiricism

Currently, influencers, microbloggers, and even supplement companies are challenging long-standing evidence-based practices. There was once a time when medical professionals were held to a high standard. They were looked up to and taken seriously due to their rigorous education and training. As a healthcare professional, I turn to other healthcare professionals for advice. Through an established rapport, I have found whom I can seek advice and guidance from for myself and my children. The underlying consideration for my fellow nurses is present, and my respect for those with advanced medical degrees is the foundation of my healthcare-related decisions. Healthcare professionals are at the forefront of more than just a lack of resources, abuse, and inadequate staffing (Austin, 2022). They must now defend their practice, skill, and knowledge.

Mitigating Misinformation 

Social media is only expanding. Americans spend significant time switching from application to application and watching, listening, or commenting on social media content. A study revealed that 51.5% of Americans, with an average age of 21, utilize social media to obtain health information and make healthcare decisions (Song et al., 2016). This specific generation has fallen victim to misinformation as a sender and recipient. The more challenged the information a person receives, their perception of the world changes. Thus, trust in healthcare professionals is diminished.

So, how can healthcare workers lead patients, friends, and family members in the right direction? A considerable part of our job in healthcare is education. Educating those we encounter on finding credible sources is vital. It is pertinent to discuss referencing websites that end in .edu, .org, and .gov (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2022). It is also essential to consider the credentials of the person relaying the information. What is their background? What is their information source? Have they had formal education? The dangers of rebelling against evidence-based practice can be detrimental to our economy, healthcare systems, and society. People should be encouraged to research their information and consult a licensed professional with the expectation that the said professional reciprocates the validation of standards of care (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2022).

Professional Perils

Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals should act accordingly (Austin, 2022). They should refrain from bashing evidence-based practices. Medical and nursing oaths mandate professionals to maintain patient safety and safeguard care at all reasonable costs. These oaths should be considered when providing advice and education to others. Withholding information or providing advice that is subject to research should be frowned upon in the healthcare community. The publics' perception of healthcare workers should be upheld to the highest standards. When we, as a profession, belittle procedures, medications, and psychosocial health, we are directly putting the public in harm's way.

Justifying Social Media 

As with any situation, there are pros and cons. Medical professionals can indefinitely utilize social media to influence and educate followers. Syed-Abdul (2022) discussed how some nurses, physicians, and pharmacists see how social media can positively influence health care. A credible source with which the viewer feels connected and provides relevant information may encourage one to seek medical care. Peer-to-peer support can be beneficial when utilized appropriately. The ability to conquer underqualified internet profiles is to form a united front supported by credible research. The development of a trusting rapport with one's community is imperative (Syed-Abdul, 2022).

Conclusion 

This battle is just starting. As social media continues to invade the minds and senses of the general public, nurses cannot succumb to the influence. Nurses and doctors will continue to provide life-saving measures and advocate for the best care, no matter the situation. However, social media influencers will advise cayenne pepper for strep throat, tea tree oil for gangrene, and vaccine-free lifestyles. Healthcare professionals must continue to press forward and provide research-supported, unbiased information to friends, family, and patients.


References

Austin, M. (2019). Health Care and Social Media: Importance of Facing Their Challenges. Patient Empowerment Network. Retrieved November 28, 2022.

Song, H., Omori, K., Kim, J., Tenzek, K. E., Hawkins, J. M., Lin, W.-Y., Kim, Y.-C., & Jung, J.-Y. (2016). Trusting Social Media as a Source of Health Information: Online Surveys Comparing the United States, Korea, and Hong Kong. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(3). 

Syed-Abdul, S. (2022). Social Media in Healthcare: Opportunities and challenges. Health Management. Retrieved November 27, 2022

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2022). Evaluating Health Information. MedlinePlus. Retrieved November 29, 2022

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Specializes in Operating room. Has 2 years experience.

The most important lesson is to know who funded a study. Always read the conflict of interests statement. Research can be, and has been, manipulated for end purposes. The number of journals that have been caught peer reviewing AI generated nonsense is shameful. 
 

Here’s a great NPR article as an example: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat

Another great article from Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01436-7