Perceptions of Unprofessional Social Media Behavior Among Emergency Medicine Physicians

William Soares, Christina Shenvi, Nikki Waller, Reuben Johnson, Carol S. Hodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


RESULTS : Of 205 eligible physicians, 119 (58%) completed the survey. Compared to SMB directors, EM physicians indicated similar probabilities of investigation for themes involving identifying patient images, inappropriate communication, and discriminatory speech. Participants indicated lower probabilities of investigation for themes including derogatory speech (32%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 24-41 versus 46%, P < .05); alcohol intoxication (41%, 95% CI 32-51 versus 73%, P < .05); and holding alcohol without intoxication (7%, 95% CI 3-13 versus 40%, P < .05). There were no significant associations with position, hospital site, years since medical school, or prior SM professionalism training.

BACKGROUND : Use of social media (SM) by physicians has exposed issues of privacy and professionalism. While guidelines have been created for SM use, details regarding specific SM behaviors that could lead to disciplinary action presently do not exist.

OBJECTIVE : To compare State Medical Board (SMB) directors' perceptions of investigation for specific SM behaviors with those of emergency medicine (EM) physicians.

METHODS : A multicenter anonymous survey was administered to physicians at 3 academic EM residency programs. Surveys consisted of case vignettes, asking, "If the SMB were informed of the content, how likely would they be to initiate an investigation, possibly leading to disciplinary action?" (1, very unlikely, to 4, very likely). Results were compared to published probabilities using exact binomial testing.

CONCLUSIONS : Physicians reported a lower likelihood of investigation for themes that intersect with social identity, compared to SMB directors, particularly for images of alcohol and derogatory speech.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-89
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of graduate medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


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