International groups of patients are linking up 24/7 through social media to disseminate knowledge, provide peer support, and offer clinical advice. And all of this is delivered quickly, at the touch of a button.
Is social media saving lives? Or is it spreading poor information and damaging private confidentiality? The rapid rise of patient support groups on social media is putting some fundamental ethical questions into the spotlight.
Information and drugs at our fingertips, The BMJ 354:i4527, 18 August 2016.
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Stephen Armstrong explores the role of social media in patient support and considers the benefits, ethical dilemmas, and confidentiality issues that arise.
Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, acknowledges the huge benefit of such groups but cautions that
“these forums should not be seen as a replacement for proper medical care.”