Social media survey for healthcare professionls: the results

I gave a presentation at ECCMID today on social media use by healthcare professionals (you can download my slides here). Since there isn’t a great deal of data around social media use by healthcare professionals, I thought I’d generate some! I put out this survey a few weeks ago. I was delighted that 749 healthcare professionals took the survey; thanks to everybody who took part.

The demographics are summarised below:


And here’s the key results:


So the audience was predominantly European, female, doctors in their 30s and 40s, but there was a fair representation of other demographics. The bottom line is that a little over 70% of respondents used some social media platform or other, and Twitter was the most common social media platform. I was a little surprised that blogs were not more commonly read. But then I would say that!

I was nerdy enough to do some statistical investigations of the data. First, I did some chi-squared tests to see whether any of the demographic variables correlated with the use of any social media platform and, surprisingly, none did. Undetered, I ran the same analysis for the use of Twitter, and, low and behold, all of them did! I ran a binary logistic regression analysis, and all of the variables that came through as significant in the univariate analysis were also significant in the multiple regression, suggesting that they are independently associated with Twitter use:

Table: Associations between demographics and professional Twitter use.


So, men, aged 35-50, living in North America, who are nurses or other healthcare professionals (compared with doctors) are generally more likely to use Twitter for professional use! In fact, other healthcare professionals are more than twice as likely to use Twitter compared with doctors (29.2% vs. 49.7%,  OR=2.3, 95%CI=1.6-3.5).

If I had my time again, I would have included more professional groups in the analysis (especially my infection pharmacist and clinical scientist colleagues – sorry about that). And I would also have include a question along the lines of “how did you find out about this survey” – I had feared that the vast majority of respondents would have heard about the survey via social media but I can take some assurance that at least 30% of people found out about the survey via other channels!

Believe it or not, I feel faily luke-warm about social media in general. I can take or leave most social media platforms for professional use (e.g. Linkedin, Google+, ResearchGate, and Facebook). But I do find writing this blog and using Twitter professionally enriching, and fairly time-neutral. There’s very little downside (I have had no trouble with trolling and rarely have annoying / unhelpful Twitter interacations) and a pretty clear upside (reading – and I mean actually reading – one paper per week, improving exposure, and generating helpful interactions).


6 thoughts on “Social media survey for healthcare professionls: the results

  1. Very interesting results Jon. I have to admit that I rarely use Twitter, and I realise i definitely need to make an effort. Ill definitely do something to keep up to date with latest evidence etc


  2. Thanks for this. I am a Healthcare Social Media Educator and a Registered Nurse. I find that many Professionals simply have not been trained in using Social Media for Professional use. They only have been warned, “stay away from Facebook!” Twitter for instance is a powerful search engine that can be used to find peer reviewed journals and monitor insights from conferences around the world.


  3. Thank you SO much for doing this survey; I work in Health Communications and will be using some of your results in an upcoming presentation. Can you tell me how you defined “regularly” in Question 5? Thanks!


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