Patient confidential : nurses’ social media use in the 21st Century
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Ward, Johanna Margaret
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The rise of social media has corresponded with an explosion in use by healthcare professionals: from online forums and clinical discussions groups to health-care conference ‘tweetups’, social media is being embraced by nurses and naturopaths, dentists and doctors. This hyper-connectedness has a downside, however, as the mixing of public and private lives begins blurring traditional boundaries, leading to violations of patient confidentiality on social media. This thesis examines this problem using Goffman’s theory of the presentation of self; online disinhibition theory; uses and gratifications theory; and normalization of deviance theory. A literature review found that the majority of violations on social media by nurses are inadvertent; research included interviews with individual nurses practising in British Columbia about their social media use, their understanding of regulations, and their comfort level with colleagues’ use of social media. The paper concludes that increased training and education would help nurses better understand their obligations, and that nurses should be encouraged and supported to speak out when they see colleagues posting inappropriate content on social media. Recommendations for future research include different initiatives to reduce inappropriate posting behaviours and measurement of whether more training/education is helpful.
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