August 14, 2013

Social Media and Physicians’ Online Identity Crisis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Berman Institute of Bioethics and Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Maryland

Copyright 2013 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2013;310(6):581-582. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.8238

Physicians are increasingly counted among Facebook’s 1 billion users and Twitter’s 500 million members. Beyond these social media platforms, other innovative social media tools are being used in medical practice, including for online consultation,1 in the conduct of clinical research,2 and in medical school curricula.3 Social media content is brief, characterized as “many-to-many” communication, and able to spread rapidly across the Internet beyond a person’s control. These and other features of social media create new dimensions to traditional ethical issues, particularly around maintaining appropriate boundaries between physicians and patients.

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