Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Preserving professional identities, behaviors, and values in digital professionalism using social networking sites; a systematic review.

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Version 2 2022-07-08, 09:49
Version 1 2021-12-20, 13:47
journal contribution
posted on 2022-07-08, 09:49 authored by Shaista Salman, Salman Yousuf Guraya, Muhamad Saiful Bahri Yusoff

Background: Despite a rapid rise of use of social media in medical disciplines, uncertainty prevails among healthcare professionals for providing medical content on social media. There are also growing concerns about unprofessional behaviors and blurring of professional identities that are undermining digital professionalism. This review tapped the literature to determine the impact of social media on medical professionalism and how can professional identities and values be maintained in digital era.

Methods: We searched the databases of PubMed, ProQuest, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, and EBSCO host using (professionalism AND (professionalism OR (professional identity) OR (professional behaviors) OR (professional values) OR (professional ethics))) AND ((social media) AND ((social media) OR (social networking sites) OR Twitter OR Facebook)) AND (health professionals). The research questions were based on sample (health professionals), phenomenon of interest (digital professionalism), design, evaluation and research type. We screened initial yield of titles using pre-determined inclusion and exclusion criteria and selected a group of articles for qualitative analysis. We used the Biblioshiny® software package for the generation of popular concepts as clustered keywords.

Results: Our search yielded 44 articles with four leading themes; marked rise in the use of social media by healthcare professionals and students, negative impact of social media on digital professionalism, blurring of medical professional values, behaviors, and identity in the digital era, and limited evidence for teaching and assessing digital professionalism. A high occurrence of violation of patient privacy, professional integrity and cyberbullying were identified. Our search revealed a paucity of existing guidelines and policies for digital professionalism that can safeguard healthcare professionals, students and patients.

Conclusions: Our systematic review reports a significant rise of unprofessional behaviors in social media among healthcare professionals. We could not identify the desired professional behaviors and values essential for digital identity formation. The boundaries between personal and professional practices are mystified in digital professionalism. These findings call for potential educational ramifications to resurrect professional virtues, behaviors and identities of healthcare professionals and students.





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Published Citation

Guraya SS, Guraya SY, Yusoff MSB. Preserving professional identities, behaviors, and values in digital professionalism using social networking sites; a systematic review. BMC Med Educ. 2021;21(1):381.

Publication Date

12 July 2021

PubMed ID



  • RCSI Bahrain


BioMed Central


  • Published Version (Version of Record)