Using Social Media for Surgical Education: Distraction Or Opportunity?

Tanya M Santella, Pepa Kaneva, MSc, Andrea Petrucci, MD, Ekaterina Lebedeva, MLIS, Liane S Feldman, MD, FRCSC, FACS, Gerald M Fried, MD, FRCSC, FACS, Melina C Vassiliou, MD, MEd, FRCSC

McGill University Health Centre

Social media (SM) has drastically changed the way society communicates and accesses information. The popularity of sessions on SM at surgical conferences, including SAGES, suggests an interest in this resource. However, there are no data evaluating the uses, benefits and limitations of SM for surgeons. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of SM by surgeons and its potential value as a tool for surgical education.

After a literature review, a survey was developed composed of multiple-choice questions divided into five sections: demographics, general use of SM, professional use, educational use and the benefits and limitations of SM. The web-based survey was sent electronically to surgeons and surgical trainees in Canada and the United States through various surgical societies.

70 surgeons (79% male; 13% surgical trainees; 55% general surgeons; 33% over 60 years old and 9% under 30) responded to the survey, with 82% using SM. These respondents reported using SM for personal reasons (60%), educational purposes (59%), entertainment (51%) and professional purposes (39%); 31% use separate accounts for their personal and professional SM profiles. These respondents further reported that it was easy to use (68%), facilitated learning and knowledge acquisition (60%), and helped them connect with people in their field (52%). Among those who use SM for educational purposes, it was used mainly to research specific information or articles (83%) and to receive news and publications (80%). The majority of these respondents felt that media sharing websites and wikis were the best SM tools for teaching and learning. For surgeons using this technology for professional and educational purposes, major concerns about patient confidentiality issues (65%) and quality of the content (63%) were raised.

Preliminary data suggest real interest for surgeons in the use of social media for professional and especially educational purposes. Patient confidentiality issues and the quality of the content may hinder its more widespread use. Further research is needed to evaluate different strategies that could be used to effectively implement SM into surgical education and to evaluate its impact.

Session: Poster Presentation

Program Number: P153

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