Research Snapshot: Netiquette for social media engagement for oncology professionals

A study published on February 3 in Future Oncology shows how to create a social media identity, best practices for engaging both in patient and caregiver spaces and professional communities, and how to address inappropriate behavior on social media with the goal of helping physicians develop an enjoyable experience online.

“Getting involved in social media can be overwhelming or intimidating to many oncology clinicians, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Merry Jennifer Markham, M.D., FACP, FASCO, a professor of medicine, chief of the division of hematology and oncology within the department of medicine and an associate director for medical affairs at the UF Health Cancer Center. “In this manuscript, we include resources for getting started and engaging in social media in a professional way that can be fulfilling and enjoyable.”

Social media growth has revolutionized health care, facilitating user-friendly, rapid and global sharing of content. Within oncology, this allows for new frontiers in communication for cancer patients, caregivers and health care providers. As more physicians engage in online spaces, it is imperative that there are resources to assist in establishing a professional presence on social media.

“The use of social media in oncology really offers some incredible ways to engage both with other health care professionals as well as patients – yet some cite not knowing the “rules of engagement” as a barrier to getting started,” said Martina Murphy, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology. “This work was aimed at laying a framework for best practices for oncology professionals who may have interest in engaging in this way but perhaps may not know quite how to get started.”

The study found:

  • There are risks and benefits to professional use of social media platforms.
  • An active social media presence can have positive or negative impacts on mental health; if it is not largely positive, consider stepping away.
  • Social media can build connection, provide opportunities for collaboration, lead to new friendships and expand professional networks.


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