The professional use of social media among research professionals. A national multidisciplinary survey
Many benefits have been recognized concerning the use of social media in the medical field, especially in oncology and clinical research and can be an opportunity for a better relationship between patients and healthcare professionals. The scope of this project is to investigate the use of social networks for professional purposes among professionals working in clinical research in Italy.
A specific anonymous survey was created by the Italian Group of Study Coordinators to explore the use of social media among clinical research professionals. The survey was composed of 13 questions grouped into different investigational sections and the attitudes and perceptions of professionals were assessed using ten-point Likert scales, continuous percentage scale or different answer options.
According to respondents the most used social network for business purposes is Facebook (74.7%), followed by LinkedIn (69.0%), with Research Gate particularly appreciated in the 30-49 years range. The evaluation of the respondents with respect to the real usefulness of social networks for work is average (median score 5.93 on a 1-10 scale), without major differences between different age groups (5.90 in 18-29 years’ group; 5.93 in 30-49; 5.66 in 50-55). The evaluation of the usefulness by cancer patients is also average (median score: 6.00), with a pessimism that characterizes above all the group of 50-65 years’ respondents (5.18 vs. 5.86 in 18-29 years’ and 6 in 30-49 years’ group).
Social media can help break down traditional barriers that prevent interaction among healthcare professionals as well as between providers, scientists, patients, and caregivers. Given the popularity and almost universal appeal of social media, we encourage physicians and institutions to learn and engage more in this ongoing evolution.
The use of social media by Italian clinical research professionals is quite widespread but characterized by a profound heterogeneity among professional figures and in the different hospitals.
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