Terry Kind,MD, MPH, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, Katherine C. Chretien, MD, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, S. Ryan Greysen, MD, MA, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Background: Social networking site (SNS) usage has implications for relationships and boundaries between faculty and trainees. Objectives: To understand COMSEP members' use of social networks and their perspectives on professional boundaries and posted content on SNS. Methods: The 2010 Annual COMSEP online survey included 11 questions regarding members' SNS use, interactions, and perceptions of students' online behaviors, including 3 open-ended questions about use and SNS relationships. Results: Preliminary data is reported here for the 57% responding [at time of abstract submission]. Demographics: 58.5% of respondents were female. 30% were 30-40 years of age, 33.9% were 41-50, 26.9% were 51-60, and 8.5% were over 60. Use: 36.2% of respondents currently use SNS personally or professionally.49.2%have never used social networking sites, and 14.6% have used SNS in the past, but not currently. 44.4% use Facebook, and 10.9% do so daily. Qualitative data analysis revealed respondents' rationale for use or non-use of SNS. Friending on Facebook: 13.1% of respondents have received a "friend request" from a current student at their institution. Of these, 47.1% accepted the request. Receiving a "friend request" from a current resident at their institution was more common (20%), and most (81%) accepted this request. 82.6% felt that "friend requests" from faculty to current students at their institution were never or rarely appropriate. In contrast, only 7.8% felt this was never or rarely appropriate with former students. Acceptableness of student postings on SNS: Most respondents felt it is rarely or never acceptable for students to postphotographs of themselves holding alcoholic beverages (75%), sexually explicit material (98.4%), discriminatory comments (98.4%), or to post disparaging remarks about their institution (89.7%), about specific faculty (94.5%), or about the medical profession (84.3%). Students describing patient encounters, even when in a de-identified, respectful manner, was deemed never or rarely acceptable by 65%. Discussion/Conclusions: Many responding COMSEP members currently use SNS, and some are interacting with students and residents. Perceptions of appropriateness of faculty SNS behaviors and students' postings varied. These perceptions by pediatric medical education leaders can help inform consensus guidelines on professional SNS use.