Ethical quandaries and Facebook use: How do medical students think they (and their peers) should (and would) act?

Daniel R. George, Anita M. Navarro, Kelly K. Stazyk, Melissa A. Clark, Michael J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background: Despite widespread use of Facebook among medical trainees, little is known about how students regard the ethical quandaries that arise from its use. Methods: In 2011-2012, Penn State College of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) conducted a national survey to explore how students were engaging with social media, including their beliefs about handling ethically challenging situations that can arise with Facebook use. Results: The response rate was 30% (2,109/7,144). Students expressed pragmatism about Facebook use and were mindful of ethical perils and professional responsibilities. They recognized the sensitivity of personal health information and expressed intent to proactively address problematic situations with peers. While "friending" patients was largely perceived as problematic, students suggested strategies to safely integrate Facebook into future practice. Conclusions: Our study confirms previous research demonstrating ubiquitous use of Facebook among students, while suggesting that students are aware of potential ethical pitfalls of Facebook misuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalAJOB Empirical Bioethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy

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