TikTok docs: 5 things to know about why physicians are using the platform

More physicians are taking to TikTok, a social media platform where users share content via short videos, to disperse medical lessons, according to The New York Times.

Five things to know:

1. Physicians and other medical professionals have shared videos on health issues spanning vaping, coronavirus, nutrition and sex education on the app, which has a largely younger base. About 90 percent of TikTok users are ages 16 to 24.

2. A recent TikTok video on sex education filmed by Danielle Jones, MD, a gynecologist at Baylor Scott and White Health's College Station, Texas, clinic, amassed 11 million views. "My TikTok presence is like if you had a friend who just happens to be an OB-GYN," Dr. Jones told the Times. "It's a good way to give information to people who need it and meet them where they are."

3. Many physicians are using the platform to counter medical misinformation online. Others see it as a way to help medical practitioners seem more approachable and humanized. Austin Chiang, MD, a gastroenterologist and chief medical social media officer at Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health, told the Times that TikTok users have asked him about specific symptoms online, and he has referred them to credible medical sources or directly to physicians.

4. Another physician, Rose Marie Leslie, MD, a family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, told the Times that she sees TikTok as a significant platform for medical public service announcements. She has shared information on vaping-associated lung diseases that gained more than 3 million views.

5. But Nicole Baldwin, MD, a pediatrician in Cincinnati who shared a pro-vaccine video that ignited backlash from anti-vaccination supporters, said physicians walk a thin line on the platform. 

"There's a fine line physicians are walking between trying to get a message out that will appeal to this younger generation without being inappropriate or unprofessional," Dr. Baldwin told the Times. "Because of the short content and musical aspect of TikTok, what adolescents are latching onto is not the professional persona we typically put out there."

Read the full article here.

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