How Social Are We? A Cross-Sectional Study of the Website Presence and Social Media Activity of Canadian Plastic Surgeons

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Abstract

The internet and social media are increasingly being used by patients not only for health-related research, but also for obtaining information on their surgeon. Having an online presence via a website and social media profile is one-way plastic surgeons can meet this patient driven demand. The authors sought to document current website and social media usage of Canadian plastic surgeons and to determine if this usage correlated with years in practice. A Google search was performed using publicly available lists of all plastic surgeons registered with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (CSAPS). This search found 42% (268/631) of RCPSC plastic surgeons had a website and 85% (536/631) had a profile on social media. Younger RCPSC surgeons (registered for less years) were significantly more likely to have a website (12.8 vs. 21.9 years, P < 0.0001) and an active social media profile (16.2 vs. 23.9 years, P < 0.002). The social media platform most used was RateMDs (81%) followed in decreasing order by: LinkedIn (28%), RealSelf (22%), Facebook (20%), Google+ (17%) and Twitter (16%). Dual RCPSC-CSAPS members were more likely than RCPSC-only members to have a website (56 vs. 36%, P < 0.0001) and an active social media profile (P < 0.05). Overall, current website usage and social media presence by Canadian plastic surgeons is comparable to counterparts in the US and UK. It may be possible to better optimize online presence through education of current search engine technology and becoming active on multiple social media platforms.

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