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Behind the perfectly curated videos and facetuned selfies, no filter can hide the concerns dermatologists have about practicing medicine in the face of social media.
March 17, 2021: A new study published in JMIR Dermatology found that dermatologists are most concerned over misinformation on social media, scoring it an 89 out of 100 on the degree of risk severity. Yet, 82% of dermatologists plan to increase their personal and professional use on social media.
Risks and Benefits of Using Social Media in Dermatology: Cross-sectional Questionnaire Study
February 24, 2021
Study was started by a medical student at NYITCOM and NYU dermatologist.
Dermatology, Social media, Skin care
This study is the first to take a snapshot of how board-certified dermatologists think of social media.
Dermatologists’ two greatest concerns with social media are:
1) Nondermatologists and unqualified individuals (skinfluencers) posing as skin care experts (89/100 risk severity)
2) Promotion of nonevidence-based products and treatments (82/100 risk severity)
Dermatologists believe the leading benefits of social media are:
1) Building a supportive and collaborative online community among physicians (75/100 degree of benefit)
2) Educating patients with image-driven content (68/100 degree of benefit)
Most dermatologists surveyed (82%) want to increase their use on social media.
The generation gap is real, but may not be what you expect. Generation X physicians are the most concerned and least likely to use social media. Millennials and Baby Boomers share more optimistic views and are ready to use social media.
Misinformation Is a Leading Concern
Misinformation is a leading concern; without stronger actions by the Tech Giants, physicians may decrease their participation on social media. Dermatologists are highly concerned with the risks to patient care and privacy. Proper education to address these concerns are vital during medical school and residency training.
Online Community for Dermatologists
Social media is used by physicians to connect with other physicians.
Prior studies show that younger patients will search for their dermatologist on social media prior to booking an appointment, and most dermatologists plan to increase their social media presence, perhaps for economic reasons.
Educating Patients With Image-Driven Content
Our study and others show that many physicians use social media to better educate patients, raise health awareness, and advocate for their profession. The highly visual nature of dermatology makes it particularly amenable to public education and outreach through social media.
Examples of dermatologists using social media to educate and raise awareness:
● Dr Angelo Landriscina
● Dr Janella Vega
● Dr Orit Markowitz
● Dr Mary Lupo
Baby boomers share similar optimism as millennials and are heavy users of social media, spending on average 30 minutes per day—typically on Facebook (vs Instagram, which is most popular among millennials). Gen X stood out as the dissenters, having the least optimistic view of social media.
As social media continues to evolve to favor multiple “fringe platforms” and as new generations (Gen Z) come of age, maintaining our finger on the pulse of how physicians (including dermatologists) will use and interface with social media will become increasingly important.
- Dermatologists spend, on average, more than 45 minutes a day on social media.
- Instagram is the most preferred platform by dermatologists (44%), followed by Facebook (41%), most likely owing to the visual nature of Dermatology (Derms love pictures).
- Dermatologists in private practice spend more time on social media than any other type of dermatologist, this may be due to the importance of social media’s role in recruiting patients.
About the Researchers
Moshe Y Bressler: (first author)
- Fourth-year medical student at NYITCOM, social media researcher
John G Zampella, MD: (senior and corresponding author)
- Board-certified dermatologist
- Assistant Professor of Dermatology at NYU Langone
- Director of resident patient safety and quality improvement, and director of medical student education
How This Study Came to Be
The authors of this study first met on Instagram and used social media to collaborate, develop, collect data, and coordinate analysis of this research project. Using the same platforms they were studying to communicate allowed the authors to work together across multiple institutions (NYU, NYITCOM, and Jamaica Hospital).
What spurred medical student Moshe Bressler to turn his mere idea into a research project is his interest in the ways medicine is shaped by social media. Through this mutual interest shared by Dr Zampella, student Bressler gained more than a research collaborator, he gained a mentor as well. In the past 2 years, Bressler and Zampella have published more than 5 publications and presentations on the use of social media in medicine.
- This study https://derma.jmir.org/2021/1/e24737
- Article in the JAAD https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2020.07.098
- Conference presentation for leaders and educators at osteopathic medical schools (AACOM 2021) https://www.abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/9340/presentation/71
- Poster presentation of the legal issues of social media in medicine, American College of Legal Medicine (No link)
- Conference presentation, why you should follow your dermatologist on Instagram https://www.nyit.edu/event/source/bressler_moshe#
For all inquiries, contact Moshe Bressler at email@example.com