Social media is generally defined as powerful ‘Internet-based’ tools that allow users
to share, create, and discuss the online content such as information, opinions, personal
experiences, images and video clips [1-3]. Social media is a collective term which
provides various features that can meet the different needs of the users. It contains social
networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, blogs, media sharing (Youtube), video
or photo sharing sites, microblogs (Twitter) and collaborative projects (Wikipedia)
[1,4]. The public participation rate in social media has increased unexpectedly over this
decade. Sensis Social Media Report (2016) states that close to nine in ten Australians
(87%) access Internet every day. Among these users, 69% of them sent or shared photo
or links by using social networking website such as Facebook and Twitter daily (Sensis
Social Media Report 2016) [5]. Social Media & Healthcare Information
Social media benefits the whole healthcare system in a variety of ways. It provides
healthcare professionals with applications to share health information, debate
health practice issues, communicate with the public and promote the primary health
care behaviors [4,6]. Social media can be a useful tool for collaboration. It provides
opportunities for healthcare practitioners to dialogue with their colleagues and peers
and keep pace with the latest healthcare developments even they were separated
by a long distance [2]. For example, it can connect healthcare practitioners in thirdworld countries specialists from advanced locations, and they can stream the surgical Social Media & Healthcare Information
procedures and ask questions via the Internet [4]. Nurses can also participate in
online forums, pose questions, and discuss patients’ health issues with peers who
have similar interests [4,7]. They can exchange ideas about treatment options with a
broad range of communities, and acquire the latest information of clinical knowledge
in this supportive environment as a result [7]. Therefore, social media establishes a new
communication method for the health professionals, and they can share and exchange
health information in an entirely new way which cannot be possible before

However, although social media has these distinct advantages
to obtaining useful information only a click way, it also has
disadvantages as well. Low quality or lack of reliability of online
health information has been found to be a major limitation of
social media in health care [4,6] Social Media & Healthcare Information. Social media offers the public a
wide range of health information. A vast majority of people search
online healthcare information via online sources to diagnose
themselves or the others [3]. However, some authors of the
information are usually anonymous. Additionally, the information
may be incomplete, informal or not referenced, and this makes
people hard to identify the reliability of the information [4,6].
What is more, Househ, Borycki & Kushniruk (2014) [10], find out
that some authors even magnify the health information outcomes
to gain more ‘click volume’. Therefore, people who were seeking
health information may be misled by the inaccurate information
and cause potential harm to their health.

Violation of confidentiality and privacy of the patient is
another significant disadvantage of using social media in the
healthcare setting. The violation can be either intentional or
inadvertent and can happen in many different ways [4,11]. Some
nurses may breach patients’ privacy with the information they
posted on social media sites, for example, post photos or videos
of a patient without any valid consent, comment patients in a
degrading manner, and expose too many patients’ details makes
them be identified [4,12]. However, patients’ privacy entails
their rights and expectation that they need to be treated with
basic dignity [12]. Once their privacy is being violated, even
inadvertent, can make patients feel lose their dignity and destroy
the therapeutic relationship between nurses and patients [4,11].
What is worse, these inappropriate actions may also damage
the nurses’ professional image and ruin the reputation of the
health care settings as well [4,13]. Moreover, nurses might face
potential consequences such as penalties, termination of the job,
or temporary or permanent loss their registration (Ventola 2014)
[4]. Some people misunderstand that the inappropriate content
once deleted from the social media site is no longer exist [13].
However, the moment patient’s information or photo is posted,
it lives on the server permanently and could be retrieved by law
even deletion [13].
Another negative effect of using social media on health care
practice is distractions and interruptions during the working time
[14]. Nurses are in a complicated atmosphere which is vulnerable
to distraction by social media (Brady, Malone & Fleming 2009).
Many studies found out that modern technology such as mobile
phones could be a potential factor in making distractions or
interruptions among nurses while they are providing care to
patients [14,15]. pointed out that a nurse who is disturbed by
social networking messages may introduce errors in medication
calculation and administration and cause severe damage to
patients or even death.

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