Generational differences exist in dermatologists’ perceptions of social media
Social media is increasingly being used by dermatologists, but some generations continue to be wary of its risks, according to a study.
“Dermatologists were early adopters of social media, and many continue to make educational and relevant content for consumers,” Moshe Y. Bressler, BS, of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, and colleagues wrote.
A 36-question online survey queried dermatologists about their use of social media, their concern for its risks and demographic information. Each question used a sliding scale from 0 to 100, where 100 equaled full agreement.
Generational differences between baby boomers (ages 55 to 73 years), Generation X (ages 39 to 54 years) and millennials (ages 23 to 38 years) were compared.
Of 128 valid responses, 57% were millennials, 34% were Generation X and 10% were baby boomers.
Social media use was reported by 120 respondents (93.8%), with Facebook being the most used (85.2%), followed by Instagram (66.4%), LinkedIn (39.8%), Reddit (12.5%), Snapchat (25.8%), Twitter (22.7%), WhatsApp (38.3%) and YouTube (27.3%).
Millennials were the most likely to believe that social media helps to deliver health care and improve health care knowledge, while Generation X was least likely to do so.
“Millennials were the most optimistic while the more senior doctors are more concerned,” Bressler told Healio. “I originally thought, ‘These Generation X physicians don’t understand social media,’ but actually the reason they don’t use it is because they do understand it and they have very valid concerns.”
Perceived risks included damage to professional reputation, breach of patient privacy, untruthfulness, an emphasis on superficial values and a boost to nonevidence-based products. The total pessimism score was 14.8% for millennials, 15% for Generation X and 12.7% for baby boomers.
Many were concerned about non-experts having a platform to spread misinformation, according to Bressler. But if more dermatologists waded into that space, he said, it would be an opportunity for more knowledgeable care.
“If you don’t go online, then there’s no expert in the room,” he said. “Clinicians have more of an incentive now than ever to get on social media. It’s not about becoming famous or recruiting a million patients to your practice. It’s about fighting misinformation with the presence of an expert.”