Dangers and Opportunities for Social Media in Medicine

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Abstract

Health professionals have begun using social media to benefit patients, enhance professional networks, and advance understanding of individual and contextual factors influencing public health. However, discussion of the dangers of these technologies in medicine has overwhelmed consideration of positive applications. This article summarizes the hazards of social media in medicine and explores how changes in functionality on sites like Facebook may make these technologies less perilous for health professionals. Finally, it describes the most promising avenues through which professionals can use social media in medicine—improving patient communication, enhancing professional development, and contributing to public health research and service.

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