Physicians turn to social media for professional advancement, survey finds

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While both female and male physicians report using social media to build their professional networks, there are differences in how it benefits each gender, according to survey findings published May 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Overall, a sample of 577 respondents were included in the study. Of those, 321 identified as women and 256 identified as men. The survey was administered between February and March. 

Five findings: 

1. Men (69 percent) and women (67 percent) were equally likely to report using social media to build their professional networks. 

2. Similarly, 70 percent of men and 68 percent of women respondents agreed that social media led to increased collaboration within their specialities. Findings indicating that social media increased collaboration across specialities and institutions were also similar. 

3. Forty-eight percent of male physicians said social media helped expand their research portfolio, compared to 36 percent of women. 

4. Men (39 percent) were more likely to report that social media use resulted in a speaking engagement than women (30 percent.) 

5. Seventy-three percent of women said they used social media to build a support network, compared to 55 percent of men. 

"The findings of this survey suggest that social media use by women physicians may not improve gender equity," researchers said. "It may be the case that the same biases that lead to fewer opportunities for professional advancement for women persist in the online physician community." 

Researchers noted several study limitations, including that questions are liable to subjectivity. 

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