Social media: A double edged sword for accessing health care information

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Technology has improved speed and ease of communication using various platforms. Recent improvements in technology using Social Media (SM) has dramatically changed the way communication happens. Success stories of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, blog sites are some examples of how different media are used by people to communicate using digital technology and social media. Access to information, including healthcare, using SM is on the rise owing to its ease and accessibility. Since people have the provision to share their views, experiences, voice opinions and share knowledge on different aspects of healthcare using social media, patients, caregivers and health professionals have started accessing health related information more frequently using SM. SM has inherent limitation to be misinterpreted, misinformed, mis-represented when not used properly. Patients are increasingly turning to internet and online sources for accessing health information. Poor quality of information, damage to professional image, breaches of patient privacy, violation of patient-healthcare professional boundaries, licensing issues and legal issues are identified as challenges to the use of SM for health information by various researchers. Due to advances in technology it has become easy to access information using SM, which could be a double edged sword. This narrative review tries to highlight advantages and loopholes in using SM for accessing healthcare information. The objective of the current study is to understand use of SM for accessing healthcare based on empirical evidence drawn from studies carried out in both developed and developing countries. Studies show that correct, timely and authentic information related to various aspects of healthcare should to be shared through SM whereas incorrect and misleading health information on SM could be harmful, if not catastrophic. Governments and apex bodies involved in healthcare regulation shall have regulations as well as SM presence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalIndian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01-04-2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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