Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content Among Young Vascular Surgeons
Scott Hardouin, MD1, Thomas W. Cheng, MS1, Stephen Raulli, M.Phil1, Douglas Jones, MD1, Jeffrey Siracuse, MD1, Jeffrey Kalish, MD1, Erica L. Mitchell, MD2, Alik Farber, MD1.
1Boston Univeristy, Boston, MA, USA, 2Oregan Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
OBJECTIVES: Past surveys demonstrated that a significant number of patients felt that social media content would affect their choice of physician, hospital or medical facility. Our goal was to evaluate the extent of unprofessional social media content among recent vascular surgery fellows and residents
The Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery directory was used to compile a list of the vascular trainees from 2016-2018. Neutral Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts were searched for public information. All content was screened by two separate investigators for pre-determined material categorized as either unprofessional or potentially objectionable. Unprofessional content included: HIPAA violations, appearing intoxicated, unlawful behavior, possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, and uncensored profanity or offensive comments about colleagues/work/patients. Potentially objectionable content included: holding/consuming alcohol, inappropriate attire, censored profanity, controversial political or religious comments, and controversial social topics.
RESULTS: Evaluation of 480 vascular trainees revealed that 325 (68%) were male, 456 (95%) held MD degrees, and 115 (24%) were integrated 0+5 residents. 61 (30%) account holders had either unprofessional or potentially objectionable content, with 8 (3.4%) containing content categorized as unprofessional. The only forms of unprofessional content identified were obvious alcohol intoxication in 3 Facebook accounts and uncensored profanity or offensive comments about colleagues/work/patients in 1 Facebook and 5 Twitter accounts. Potentially objectionable content included holding/consuming alcohol (12.3%), controversial political comments (9.4%), inappropriate/offensive attire (3.8%), censored profanity (3.4%), controversial social topics (2.5%), and controversial religious comments (0.9%). There was no significant difference in objectionable content between gender, training (MD vs non-MD), or track (0+5 or 5+2) (all P > 0.05). However, there was more unprofessional or potentially objectionable content for those who self-identified as vascular surgeons (33% vs 17%; P=0.007)
CONCLUSIONS: Half of recent and current vascular trainees had an identifiable social media account with nearly 1/3 of these containing unprofessional or potentially objectionable content. Account holders who self-identified as vascular surgeons were more likely to be associated with objectionable social media behavior. Young surgeons should be aware of the permanent public exposure of potentially objectionable content that can be accessed by peers, patients, and current/future employers.
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