Social media is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. It has significant potential as a health communication and educational tool, and may provide a medium for the delivery of health-related services.Objectives:
This systematic review aimed to investigate the use of social media in professional pharmacy practice and pharmacy education, and includes an evaluation of the research designs utilized.Methods:
Medline, Embase, PubMed, IPA, and CINAHL databases were broadly searched for peer-reviewed research studies about pharmacy and social media (SM). The search was restricted to years 2000 to June 2013, with no other restrictions applied. Key words used were within three concept areas: “social media” and “pharmacist or student” and “pharmacy.”Results:
Twenty-four studies met the inclusion criteria. SM was broadly addressed as a general concept in 3 of the 24 studies. The other 21 studies investigated/used specific SM tools. Fourteen of those addressed social networking sites (SNS), four wikis, two blogs, and one Twitter. The studies' foci were to describe SM use (n = 17 studies) by pharmacist, pharmacy educators, and pharmacy students and investigate usage related topics (such as e-professionalism and student-educator boundary issues); or the use of SM as an educational tool in pharmacy education (n = 7). Pharmacy students were the subject of 12 studies, pharmacists of six, and faculty members and administrators of four. Survey methods were used in 17 studies, alone or with an additional method; focus groups were used in two; interviews in one; and direct observation of social media activity in seven. Results showed that SM in general and SNS in particular were used mainly for personal reasons. Wikis, Facebook, and Twitter were used as educational tools in pharmacy education with positive feedback from students.Conclusion:
Research investigating the use of SM in the practice of pharmacy is growing; however, it is predominantly descriptive in nature with no controlled studies identified. Although some studies have used SM to deliver and enhance pharmaceutical education, none have focused on the delivery of pharmacy services through SM.