Tag: social media

Blog Posts (11)

February 21, 2017

Studying “Friends”: The Ethics of Using Social Media as Research Platforms

by Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Ph.D.

Social media is increasingly creating the contours of many Americans’ daily lives as a medium that is simultaneously intimate and powerfully public.…

November 7, 2016

Offering Condolence in the Modern Era

As social media has surged in our society, how we interact with people has shifted.  Some of us spend more time texting and emailing than talking to a human face.  This may be especially true for those who have an office job.  We as a society have expressed concern about the possible health effects from increased screen exposure, such as the impact computer screens have on vision and memory.  We also have expressed concern about how screen exposure will affect childhood development, particularly social interactions. So what affect has this increased screen exposure caused on how we console another for the loss of a loved one?

Consoling is a skill that clinical ethicists learn quickly as many consults is related to end-of-life issues. It is as simple as offering a tissue for a grieving family member but more than simply saying “I am sorry for your loss.”  It is an ability to read another human’s grief.  Consoling is arguably a fundamental component to our society as loss is a natural part of the human process.  Consoling is a way of experiencing the grieving process and accepting loss.

recent New York Times article gave us some advice on how to console those who have experienced death.  The article gave seven points of advice, one of which was “Facebook is not enough.”  It made the point that a message or post via Facebook is a great first gesture but that one should follow up with something more such as a condolence card or attending the funeral. What is interesting about this advice is that it acknowledges that social interaction through social media is not the same as social interaction in person. This may seem like an obvious statement to some, but our increasing use of social media for basic human interactions may suggest this is not as obvious of a statement.

One advantage for social media is the ability to remain connected to more people than previously.  However, this is a double-edged sword, as the more people we become connected to the less connected we become to people.  It becomes quantity of connections over quality of connections.  When Facebook first opened to the public, there was a movement to see how “friends” one could have. But how many of those were truly friends? How many of those individuals would you have even sent a message saying, “I am sorry for your loss”? As more and more of us send more of our social interactions through a screen, it will be interesting to see how our ability to console another changes. 


The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.


May 17, 2016

What’s Laremy Tunsil Got To Do With It? Professionalism, Social Media, and Medical Education

By Mark Kuczewski On April 28, 2016, ten minutes before the NFL draft of college players was to begin, the Twitter account of Laremy Tunsil of the University of Mississippi, displayed a video of him wearing a gas mask and smoking from a bong.  Mr. Tunsil was a talented prospect widely believed about to become […]
August 31, 2015

Hashtag Advocacy or Slacktivism: How Should We Evaluate the Impact of Social Media Campaigns for Public Health?

by Macey L. Henderson, J.D.

It takes more than a TV news story or a Twitter hashtag campaign to save lives.…

August 22, 2015

The Private as Public: What it Means for Bioethics

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Today I was sitting in an outdoor coffee house and listened to the sounds around me. I heard the jackhammer from the street construction and the beep of a truck backing up.…

August 14, 2015

Living Organ Donations and Social Media

<p class="MsoNormal" style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Articles about improving organ donation registration rates by targeted social media campaigns have indicated that such efforts can successfully increase the numbers of individuals who elect to become organ donors </span>(Pena, 2014) (Cameron AM, 2013)<span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">. While it is acknowledged that social medial is a useful medium for generating widespread recognition of the need for organ donation, concerns about whether or not donor registration actually increases donation rates is left unknown. Additional concerns about such registrations meet the standards for informed consent. These are productive conversations, and social media holds tremendous potential for conveying information and generating levels of interest in topics at a ‘viral’ level.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Discussions up to this point seem to focus on donation after death, or in the context of imminent death. What has not been robustly discussed is the role of social media in the role of live organ donation. How should transplant programs view the relationship of acquaintances that begin on social media in the context of seeking information or support related to organ donation? Decisions to donate a solid organ, such as a kidney, ought not to be undertaken lightly, and perhaps the screening process will weed out donors with ambivalent intent or poor understanding of what they have offered a recipient. Given that concerns about informed consent have been noted in prior studies, it seems prudent to exercise added caution when approving donation transactions initiated via social media outlets.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><strong>The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a</strong> </span><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="color: #000099; text-decoration: underline;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></p>
May 10, 2015

Social Media and Patient Information

<p style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">In the most recent issue of </span><em style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><a href="http://www.clinicalethics.com/">The Journal of Clinical Ethics</a></em><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">, authors Genes and Appel explore the ethical considerations at play when physicians might use the internet to gather patient information</span><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">. They conclude, correctly I believe, that there are circumstances in which accessing information about a patient supports beneficent efforts to provide quality care, even in non-emergent circumstances. Rather than damaging the doctor patient relationship, an informed provider is better equipped to support the patient’s best interests if loved ones can be located, presentation of information can be confirmed as factual or not, and the context of this patient’s needs can be more fully understood by the care team.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Social media, such as the now ubiquitous </span><a style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;" href="http://www.facebook.com">Facebook</a><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">, is often considered a forum where people may express thoughts and feelings they fail to articulate in person. Consider the posts of an angry or despondent partner after the end of a relationship. Should commentary become threatening – to self or others – this is considered cause for concern and these comments are taken as valid expressions that warrant immediate emergency intervention. Text messages carry the same weight as spoken words, and are preserved in electronic format to be shared by the recipient at will. Failing to consider such communications as part of the purview of healthcare providers could lead to harm for the patient or others. While these expressions might not be quickly discoverable by physicians, they can, in some instances, be lifesaving components adding to the overall clinical picture. </span></p> <p style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19.0400009155273px; font-size: 12px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong><span style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19.0400009155273px; font-size: 12px;"> </span><span style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"> </span></p>
April 21, 2015

Figure 1: Global Medical Education and Collaboration in Real Time

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

When I was teaching in medical schools I recall a case where a student was reprimanded for breaking patient confidentiality by uploading a picture of surgery to his Facebook profile.…

August 1, 2013

A new spin on identity theft

Andrea Kalfoglou, Ph.D.

A few years ago (2011), Facebook suggested that I “friend” a member of the bioethics community.  After all, 42 of my other Facebook “friends” were also linked to Dr.…

May 13, 2012

Tweeting Live Medical Procedures

Using Twitter to broadcast a live surgical procedure: educational or ethically dubious? There are obvious concerns with the practice such as the invasion of privacy or potential for error/adverse events due to the broadcast.…

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Published Articles (1)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 10 - Oct 2014

Case Study: Ethical Implications of Social Media in Health Care Research Holly A. Taylor, Ellen Kuwana & Benjamin S. Wilfond

News (15)

November 21, 2012 10:00 am

Feds To Use Social Media For Biosurveillance (InformationWeek)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarded Accenture Federal Services a two-year contract to help the Office of Health Affairs enhance its biosurveillance capabilities using information gathered from social media sites.

August 20, 2012 7:15 pm

Search For Parkinson's Genes Turns To Online Social Networking (NPR (blog))

For a few hundred dollars and a vial of spit, these companies will search your DNA for sequences that predict your physical traits, your response to certain drugs and your risk for any number of diseases.  One such company, California-based 23andMe, is attempting to use the data to do something different: search for new genes linked to Parkinson’s disease. The company, which calls itself the world’s first genetics-based social network, has collected more than 125,000 DNA samples from customers.  Criticism of direct-to-consumer genetics companies is nothing new. Many have questioned the ethics of delivering genetic information directly to the consumer, as well as the value and the accuracy of the genetic risks they report.

August 12, 2012 6:25 pm

Should you and your doctor be Facebook friends? Doctors debate better medicine vs. ethically 'icky' trend (The Seattle Times)

And what if your patients want to “friend” you?  “I think that’s just a really icky idea,” said Dr. John Lantos, another conference speaker and director of the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.  “I don’t respond to ‘friend’ requests from patients,” Lantos said. “What if all your patients were asking you to sleep with them? Does this mean I have to? You just say no!”

July 11, 2012 6:50 pm

Professionalism: Social media mishaps (CMAJ)

One of the primary reasons medical professionalism is lagging online is that the doctors who use social media the most are from a different generation than those who know the most about maintaining the reputation of the profession. “People who have a blog or are on Twitter and Facebook tend to be on the younger side. People with more wisdom about professional boundary issues tend to be on the older side. There is a bit of a gap there and a lack of training and mentorship in this area,” says Dr. David Brendel, a psychiatrist practising in the area of Boston, Massachusetts, and a sought-after educator on matters of medical ethics and professionalism (drdavidbrendel.com).

June 7, 2012 12:29 pm

Zombies are not a health problem (for us). Should they be a solution? (Philadelphia Inquirer)

In May 2011, the CDC launched a zombie apocalypse social media campaign to raise public awareness around the importance of emergency preparedness.  The zombie approach — which included a comic book featuring vicious looking zombies and blog post by Assistant Surgeon General Ali S. Khan (inaugurating a full zombie category of posts) — was a novel spin on a decade’s worth of unsuccessful efforts aimed at getting Americans to prepare for natural disasters and public emergencies (i.e., stockpile extra food and water, have duct tape and flash lights on hand, make a plan, etc).  The  CDC thought a “sexier” approach might get more people  interested this serious issue.

June 1, 2012 8:53 am

More Families Seek Kidney Donations on Facebook (Philadelphia Inquirer)

More patients and families are using Facebook to seek kidney donations, but it’s not clear if doing do improves the chances of obtaining a donor organ, a new study finds. They noted a number of ethical concerns. Three percent of the pages received offers to sell kidneys, mostly from people in Third World countries. Would-be donors typically asked for $30,000 to $40,000. Selling organs is illegal.

May 29, 2012 10:25 am

Transplant experts question impact of Facebook’s organ-donor registration push (American Medical News)

Facebook’s move to allow users to add their organ-donor registration status as a “life event” on their profile pages led to a surge in donor sign-ups and earned the company plaudits from physicians and other professionals in the transplant community. But experts warn that the social-networking behemoth’s action will not be enough to solve the U.S. organ shortage and could pose ethical problems for patients and families while trivializing the decision to donate.

May 3, 2012 12:55 pm

States See Instant Spike in Organ Donors Following Facebook Push (ABC News)

Organ donation registries in 10 states reported as many new volunteer donors Tuesday, the first day of a new initiative that allowed Facebook users to sign up to become organ donors, as they typically see in one month. According to stats from Donate Life America, a nonprofit group partnering with the social network, California alone witnessed a 700 percent increase over the number of volunteers on a typical day.

May 1, 2012 11:02 am

Facebook users can add organ donor status (The Washington Post)

Facebook has added a unique feature to its social network: you can now tell the world — or just your family members — that you’re an organ donor. The company announced the initiative on Tuesday, encouraging its 900 million users to let others know if they are organ donors.

April 30, 2012 2:57 pm

Patients want to use social media tools to manage health care (American Medical News)

Some patients have moved beyond wanting social media content they can “follow” or “like.” They want social media to be something that helps them coordinate care and navigate the health care system, and they think physicians are the best people to deliver it.

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