How do pharmacists use social media?


Call for pharmacists to play a bigger role in providing online shared medicine information

Pharmacists should increase their contribution to providing medicines information on social media platforms and shared internet sites such as Wikipedia say academics researching the professions’ social media habits.

An international team of researchers, including Betty Chaar and Parisa Aslani from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, conducted in-depth interviews with 31 pharmacists – including 17 Australians.

The researchers said the pharmacists they interviewed perceived themselves as using social media primarily for personal reasons, but the interviews revealed “common and very diverse” social media use for professional reasons.

They found pharmacists use Wikipedia as their first choice when seeking information about unfamiliar topics or topics that were difficult to search for.

The high use of Wikipedia found in the study was consistent with a high rate of use previously reported among pharmacists, they said.

Wikipedia was commonly used during work time for initial explorations of less known topics related to health and medicines. It also boosted the sharing of information between pharmacists, and with other health professions.

However, the authors said “pharmacists’ contribution to the ‘free encyclopedia’ seems to be negligible, despite, as our study asserts, being highly accessed by pharmacists.

“Pharmacists as experts on medicine could provide a great contribution by taking the lead in adding and editing medicine information accessible to consumers in highly accessed SM platforms such as Wikipedia,” they said. “As the use of SM tends to increase among the population in general, a corresponding expansion of its application in the health sector and pharmacy may also be probable”.

A number of pharmacists also indicated they regularly viewed YouTube videos for self-education, university lectures or ‘how-to’ footage. YouTube was perceived “as a good resource to better illustrate concepts, provide supplementary information, serve as alternative learning resources….”  

Professional networking was commonly undertaken on general social networking sites, primarily Facebook, rather than profession-specific sites, the researchers found.  

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research

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