Understanding the Factors That Influence the Adoption and Meaningful Use of Social Media by Physicians to Share Medical Information

Journal of Medical Internet Research (Impact Factor: 3.43). 09/2012; 14(5):e117. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.2138


Within the medical community there is persistent debate as to whether the information available through social media is trustworthy and valid, and whether physicians are ready to adopt these technologies and ultimately embrace them as a format for professional development and lifelong learning.

To identify how physicians are using social media to share and exchange medical information with other physicians, and to identify the factors that influence physicians’ use of social media as a component of their lifelong learning and continuing professional development.

We developed a survey instrument based on the Technology Acceptance Model, hypothesizing that technology usage is best predicted by a physician’s attitudes toward the technology, perceptions about the technology’s usefulness and ease of use, and individual factors such as personal innovativeness. The survey was distributed via email to a random sample of 1695 practicing oncologists and primary care physicians in the United States in March 2011. Responses from 485 physicians were analyzed (response rate 28.61%).

Overall, 117 of 485 (24.1%) of respondents used social media daily or many times daily to scan or explore medical information, whereas 69 of 485 (14.2%) contributed new information via social media on a daily basis. On a weekly basis or more, 296 of 485 (61.0%) scanned and 223 of 485 (46.0%) contributed. In terms of attitudes toward the use of social media, 279 of 485 respondents (57.5%) perceived social media to be beneficial, engaging, and a good way to get current, high-quality information. In terms of usefulness, 281 of 485 (57.9%) of respondents stated that social media enabled them to care for patients more effectively, and 291 of 485 (60.0%) stated it improved the quality of patient care they delivered. The main factors influencing a physician’s usage of social media to share medical knowledge with other physicians were perceived ease of use and usefulness. Respondents who had positive attitudes toward the use of social media were more likely to use social media and to share medical information with other physicians through social media. Neither age nor gender had a significant impact on adoption or usage of social media.

Based on the results of this study, the use of social media applications may be seen as an efficient and effective method for physicians to keep up-to-date and to share newly acquired medical knowledge with other physicians within the medical community and to improve the quality of patient care. Future studies are needed to examine the impact of the meaningful use of social media on physicians’ knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors in practice.

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    • "This simply means that the user will only write a review of a product or service if the user perceives the review submission easy. Numerous studies have proposed that PEOU would affect knowledge sharing behaviors in virtual environments (McGowan et al., 2012). Expected benefits from using a system and perception of ease of use are considered as incentives for knowledge sharing (Sharratt & Usoro, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Consumers trust the Internet for advice. Online Social Networks (OSNs) are creating collective knowledge and becoming major information gathering sources among tourists when making travel decisions and purchasing travel-related products and services. The aim of the current study is to develop a theoretical model that tests the precursors of "intention to share knowledge" behaviors in the context of OSNs. Based on the previous literature, a theoretical model was developed and tested using Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling with a sample of travel-related OSN users who had at least one year of online travel shopping experience. Study results show that both perceived ease of use and belief in integrity positively influence knowledge sharing behaviors. Utilitarian beliefs and subjective norms positively influence belief in integrity. This is one of the few research studies within this field and study results present clear theoretical and practical implications for the travel and tourism industry.
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    • "Contemporary medical education is refl ective of this global paradigm shift. Defi nitions of social media are diverse, including a focus on e-learning and distance education learning tools, and narrower interpretations include the discussions of websites and applications where users contribute, retrieve, and explore content primarily generated by fellow users (McGowan et al., 2012). Recently social media use as a learning tool in medicine has been growing at an exponential rate. "
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