Who's misbehaving? Perceptions of unprofessional social media use by medical students and faculty

Elizabeth A. Kitsis, Felise B. Milan, Hillel W. Cohen, Daniel Myers, Patrick Herron, Mimi McEvoy, Jacqueline Weingarten, Martha S. Grayson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Social media use by physicians offers potential benefits but may also be associated with professionalism problems. The objectives of this study were: 1) to examine and compare characteristics of social media use by medical students and faculty; 2) to explore the scope of self- and peer-posting of unprofessional online content; and 3) to determine what actions were taken when unprofessional content was viewed. Methods: An anonymous, web-based survey was sent to medical students and faculty in October, 2013 at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. Results: Three-quarters of medical students reported using social media "very frequently" (several times a day), whereas less than one-third of faculty did so (p <.001). Medical students reported using privacy settings more often than faculty (96.5 % v. 78.1 %, p <.001). Most medical students (94.2 %) and faculty (94.1 %) reported "never" or "occasionally" monitoring their online presence (p = 0.94). Medical students reported self-posting of profanity, depiction of intoxication, and sexually suggestive material more often than faculty (p <.001). Medical students and faculty both reported peer-posting of unprofessional content significantly more often than self-posting. There was no association between year of medical school and posting of unprofessional content. Conclusion: Medical students reported spending more time using social media and posting unprofessional content more often than did faculty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number67
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 18 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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