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Table of Contents
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 283-285
Nuances of social media in medical journalism

Department of Cardiac Anaesthesia, CNC, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

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Date of Web Publication1-Jul-2015

How to cite this article:
Kapoor PM. Nuances of social media in medical journalism. Ann Card Anaesth 2015;18:283-5

How to cite this URL:
Kapoor PM. Nuances of social media in medical journalism. Ann Card Anaesth [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jan 24];18:283-5. Available from:

No one in today's era of technology wants to be belonging to past dawns, but wants to move ahead to the noon of the future. Today, social media is being used aggressively by medical publishers to promote knowledge, spread ideas and create platforms, where they can communicate their message. Social media helps guide them to create discussions amongst colleagues and across the globe on latest topics in their fields of medicine. It helps journals increase their scope by broadening the readership with a larger population viewing the recent journal articles. Social media has seen rapid growth in popularity in the last few years. There is widespread use of sites such as facebook and twitter amongst medical journals and a growing number of well-established blogs and internet forums that are aimed specifically at medical journals such as that for Circulation, British Medical Journal, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JCVA etc. Cobwebbed, by the desires to reach the masses, most established as well as upcoming journals, put their best foot forward and leave no stone unturned in putting the journal articles for enhanced viewership. None of them, but don't realize that further down, there is a trap!! In promoting the journal, we are spending time, energy, money to be seen online and stay hooked on to the social media for very fast journal article updates! But, are we gaining or loosing?

   The Pros of Social Media Top

It's hard to oppose the social media blitzkrieg adoption of newer technology all of which are great drivers of change in medicine. Social Media is one such technology which has had a massive effect on making the world increasingly shrink to become a hub of global knowledge reach more people and increase readership. This makes us all medical professionals across the world, sail in the same boat of social, international knowledge but which is not without paradoxes! It's hard to oppose the social media storm, but we need to focus at least half as much attention on a quietly worsening viewership crisis!!

Explosion of social media

The online information environment has evolved from a world in which users searched information (web 1.0) to a world where they are now able to generate and spread information themselves (web 2.0). This has shifted the focus from content-centric to user-centric information environment, leading to no explicit direction of information flow, with the reader interacting through social media with all three namely the sources, the medium and importantly with each other and leading to no contact with the direct supplier!!

A lot of work by the researchers needs to frame the implications of the explosion of new social media and web technologies in the specific context of risk and benefit to the journal status.

It is important at all times to be aware of the journals online image and how it can impact its professional standing.

   The Cons of Social Media Top

Social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube are extremely popular and its use is growing exponentially [Figure 1]. However, it is time-consuming. It has replaced human meetings and behavior and interactions. Thus, though being online is an advertisement, it has led to the offline basic intricacies woven around human emotions and bonds going for a toss! "Googling emotions" and "sharing them online" is weakening human bonds, and one shudders that the "hard copy" replaced by a "soft copy" of the journal, brings about a fission of fear of deterioration in "active journal" reading without a "hardcopy" in hand.
Figure 1: Networking of social media application

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   The Cons of Social Media Top

The budget being used while putting a medical journal on social media is of utmost importance. Dr. Ryan in a Google interview on "The scope" said about the famous journal Circulation going on the Facebook and Twitter with the aim of improving the scope of readership that most readers felt that a low budget strategy was not a good platform to read an article. An article may be hit by thousands, but read only by a few tweets. The viewers get the message, but the primary article as it is, is safely stored in their phones and never read!! And the journal has spent effort and money to put it on the phone!


Social media opens the era of citizen and collaborative journalism, wherein professional journalism can both create new medical news collaboratively and interactively with the public, but it also uses the latter as "feat - on the streets" eye - witness reporters, whether it is with social bookmarking or twitters hash-tags! Effective social media communication requires clear identification and thorough understanding of the target audiences. It needs appropriate management of information provision, so that it optimally enhances the journals status amongst the readers.

   Maintain Professional Boundaries on Social Media Top

The American Medical Association [1] and the Federation of State Medical Boards [2] provide basic instructive guidelines for the use of social media, in which it emphasizes the need to protect patient privacy and confidentially and to maintain a professional journalism discipline. It is imperative for a medical journal to keep professional and personal activity separate. Facebook users have no control over what the readers may post about them! It is important to remain within their professional ethics and discipline to enhance its image.

   Future Challenges in Medical Journalism Use of Social Media Top

A personal and professional touch to the social media campaign is required for all "online success" without a personal face to it. Instant interaction with the "reader's online queries" whether on the blog or on a tweet is the need of the hour. Engaging the readers in a journal accounts conversation involving multiple organizations helps bring more authors to spread more research knowledge and take it up also on public health issues. Involving the public is important Researches in medical fraternity must be explained to the masses through social media. All this is what will make medical journalism savvy on the social media. [3]

The mannerism in which one delivers the PDF on the gadgets is important too! Lengthy pages, small fonts are not the preferred technique by the viewers. What is seeked in an article is minipodcasts through brief interviews, short video commentaries or through infographics as well. Most readers follow only much evolved strategies on social media and most of them, may read the journal online or in the mailbox. This paradox is challenging.

   Conclusion Top

Awareness and interest in social media, though it has hit medical journalism like a bulwak in recent years, is still in its infancy. A prompt call for social media guidelines to prevent unprofessional content and breaches in patient confidentiality is the need of the hour. Further research is essential to harmonise the ethical aspects of clinical manuscripts, being seen on Facebook and other sites, for which as suggested by Leiker et al[5] it is important to establish dual online identities, to separate personal and professional identities.

An evolved and ethical use of social media will take medical journalism UP Sky High for as told by Buddha "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, but the life of a candle will not be shortened." Medical education shared on social media too is like the candle that never decreases by being shared.

   References Top

Model Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice. Federation of state medical boards.   Back to cited text no. 2
Dr. Ryan. Health care insider: Surprising findings from a study about using social media to promote journal article. An Interview.  Back to cited text no. 4
Leiker M. When to "friend" a patient: Social media tips for health care professionals. WMJ 2011;110: 42e3.  Back to cited text no. 5

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-9784.159793

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