Search all of the Society for Participatory Medicine website:Search
The Journal for Participatory Medicine's website has moved. Please check out the new website for the latest articles.


Keywords: Participatory medicine, social media.
Citation: O’Malley K. American Medical News explores social media’s pitfalls and opportunities for physicians. J Participat Med. 2010 Sep 27; 2:e9.
Published: September 27, 2010.
Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.

American Medical News, the American Medical Association’s news publication for physicians, posted an article exploring the special challenges posed by social media to physicians and medical students. The piece, “Social Media Pose Ethical Unknowns for Doctors” by Kevin B. O’Reilly, was posted online on September 6, 2010 (see and is available in the September 13, 2010 print issue.

O’Reilly notes that most medical schools and hospitals do not have guidelines for ethical online behavior, and although the AMA and the American Medical Student Association are working on guidelines, they have yet to adopt any. Most physicians and physicians in training are on their own to decide how and what to share on Facebook, Twitter, and similar sites.

Of particular interest to Journal of Participatory Medicine readers is O’Reilly’s discussion of how some practicing physicians, including JoPM Deputy Editor Alan Greene, MD, are using social media as an educational tool and as a means for better understanding their patients. The article makes clear that this is tricky terrain, but Greene and others have managed to maintain professional decorum while giving their patients an avenue of communication beyond office visits.

In the absence of formal guidelines, this article offers physicians good advice and case examples for how to approach social media, as well as a sensible list of “do’s and don’ts.” It is also useful for patients who wish to better understand the dilemmas faced by their physicians online.

Copyright: © 2010 Kathleen O’Malley. Published here under license by The Journal of Participatory Medicine. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s), with first publication rights granted to the Journal of Participatory Medicine. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. By virtue of their appearance in this open-access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.