Currently accepted at: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Date Submitted: Aug 25, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Aug 26, 2018 - Sep 5, 2018
Date Accepted: Oct 12, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Health Care Professionalsâ€™ Social Media Behavior and the Underlying Factors of Social Media Adoption and Use: Quantitative Study
In the last decade, social media has emerged as a newer platform for knowledge dissemination, information exchange, and interpersonal communication for health care professionals (HCPs). However, the underlying behaviors of HCPs and the ethical use of social media for productivity enhancement and a sustainable health care system remain ambiguous.
This study seeks to understand the factors that relate to the frequency use of social media in the health care discipline. It also aims to explore the underlying online behaviors of HCPs, which include the exchange of medical information with peers, interpersonal communication, and productivity enhancement in their daily practice.
This study adopted the quantitative method in collecting and analyzing data. A survey instrument based on the behavioral and technology acceptance theories was developed for this purpose. The survey was distributed via social media platforms to 973 participants that included physicians, pharmacists, and allied HCPs working in the United Arab Emirates. The responses from 203 completed questionnaires (response rate 20.3%) were analyzed.
Of 203 respondents, 133 HCPs used WhatsApp (65.5%); therefore, WhatsApp had the highest number of users compared to Facebook and YouTube, with 101 users out of 203 (49.7%). Overall, 109 of 203 (53.6%) HCPs used social media platforms for the exchange of peer medical information and 108 of 203 (53.2%) used social media several times during the day to improve their interpersonal communication with colleagues. However, only 71 of 203 (34.9%) utilized social media to enhance their productivity in general. The structural model equation showed that behavioral intention (beta=.47; P<.001), habit (beta=.26; P=.001), attitude (beta=.20; P=.002), and perceived usefulness (beta=.12; P=.09) were positively and significantly related to frequency of use. The model explained a rate of 45% variance in the frequency of use and a rate of 17% variance in the social media intention of use.
The research highlights the significant factors that relate to the adoption of social media platforms in health care practice. Based on the findings of this study, the use of online platforms facilitates the exchange of medical information among peers and enhances the share of experiences that support HCPâ€™s learning and development. Moreover, social media platforms foster a higher level of communication among practitioners and might improve daily productivity. Future researchers might explore other variables such as training and external factors. For instance, they may draw on areas related to guidelines and policies. From this standpoint, the health care discipline can benefit from highly interactive platforms and adopt them for development, collaboration, and better health outcomes.
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