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Thou shalt not tweet unprofessionally: an appreciative inquiry into the professional use of social media
  1. Ian Pereira1,
  2. Anne Marie Cunningham2,
  3. Katherine Moreau3,
  4. Jonathan Sherbino4,
  5. Alireza Jalali3
  1. 1Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff, UK
  3. 3University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alireza Jalali, Teaching Chair, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, uOttawa, 451 Smyth Rd, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1H 8M5; ajalali{at}


Background Social media may blur the line between socialisation and professional use. Traditional views on medical professionalism focus on limiting motives and behaviours to avoid situations that may compromise care. It is not surprising that social media are perceived as a threat to professionalism.

Objective To develop evidence for the professional use of social media in medicine.

Methods A qualitative framework was used based on an appreciative inquiry approach to gather perceptions and experiences of 31 participants at the 2014 Social Media Summit.

Results The main benefits of social media were the widening of networks, access to expertise from peers and other health professionals, the provision of emotional support and the ability to combat feelings of isolation.

Conclusions Appreciative inquiry is a tool that can develop the positive practices of organisations and individuals. Our results provide evidence for the professional use of social media that may contribute to guidelines to help individuals realise benefits and avoid harms.


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