Opinions of Students from a Brazilian Medical School Regarding Online Professionalism
Unprofessional online behavior by medical students or physicians may damage individual careers, and the reputation of institutions and the medical profession. What is considered unprofessional online behavior, however, is not clearly defined and may vary in different cultures.
To determine the frequency with which students from a Brazilian Medical School come across ten given examples of unprofessional online behavior by medical students or physicians, and gather the opinions of participants regarding the appropriateness of these behaviors.
A cross-sectional survey of 350 students from the Medical School of Bahia, Brazil. Only those who had a profile in social media were included in the final analyses.
336/350 (96.0 %) medical students kept a profile in social media. Only 13.5 % reported having discussions about online professionalism during ethics classes. They reported witnessing the investigated examples of unprofessional online behavior with varying frequencies, ranging from 13.7 % for “violation of patient’s privacy” to 85.4 % for “photos depicting consumption of alcoholic beverages”. Most participants felt neutral about posting “pictures in bathing suits”, whereas the vast majority rated “violation of patient’s privacy” as totally inappropriate. When presented with a case vignette illustrating violation of patients’ privacy (publication of pictures of hospitalized children or neonates in social media), however, most participants felt neutral about it. Participants considered all investigated examples of unprofessional online behavior more inappropriate if carried out by doctors rather than by students.
Medical students are witnessing a high frequency of unprofessional online behavior by their peers and physicians. Most investigated behaviors were considered inappropriate, especially if carried out by physicians. Participants were not able to recognize the publication of pictures of hospitalized children or neonates in social media as cases of violation of patients’ privacy. Further studies are needed to determine if an academic curriculum that fosters online professionalism will change this scenario.
KEY WORDScultural differences ethics medical education—attitudes and psychosocial medical education—professionalism survey research
- 8.American Medical Association (AMA). AMA Policy: Professionalism in the Use of Social Media. Available at: http://www.adventisthealthnw.com/amcp_resources/ccurl/800/160/AMA-Professionalism-in-use-of-Social-Media-7-25-11.pdf. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 9.Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. Model Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of the Internet in Medical Practice. Available at: http://www.fsmb.org/pdf/2002_grpol_Use_of_Internet.pdf. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 11.Shore R, Halsey J, Shah K, Crigger BJ, Douglas SP; AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA). Report of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs: professionalism in the use of social media. J Clin Ethics. 2011; 22:165-72.Google Scholar
- 12.Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e Estatística. Total de pessoas com acesso à Internet atinge 77.8 milhões. Available at: http://www.ibope.com.br/pt-br/noticias/Paginas/Total de pessoas com acesso à internet atinge 77,8 milhões.aspx. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 16.Australian Medical Association (AMA). Social Media and the Medical Profession: A Guide to Online Professionalism for Medical Practitioners and Medical Students. Available at: https://ama.com.au/social-media-and-medical-profession. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 18.Lenhart A. Adults and Social Network Websites. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Adults-and-Social-Network-Websites.aspx. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 19.Conselho Federal de Medicina. Resolução CFM nº 1931/2009. Available at: http://www.portalmedico.org.br/resolucoes/CFM/2009/1931_2009.htm. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 20.Conselho Federal de Medicina. Resolução nº 1.974/2011. Available at: http://www.portalmedico.org.br/resolucoes/CFM/2011/1974_2011.htm. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 21.The Medical Blog Network. HealthTrain: The Open Healthcare Manifesto. Available at: http://trusted.md/files/HealthTrain - the Open Healthcare Manifesto - v0.1.pdf. Accessed November 04, 2013.
- 22.British Medical Association (BMA). Using social media: practical and ethical guidance for doctors and medical students. http://bma.org.uk/-/media/Files/PDFs/Practical advice at work/Ethics/socialmediaguidance.pdf. Accessed November 04, 2013.