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      How Health Care Professionals Use Social Media to Create Virtual Communities: An Integrative Review

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          Abstract

          Background

          Prevailing health care structures and cultures restrict intraprofessional communication, inhibiting knowledge dissemination and impacting the translation of research into practice. Virtual communities may facilitate professional networking and knowledge sharing in and between health care disciplines.

          Objectives

          This study aimed to review the literature on the use of social media by health care professionals in developing virtual communities that facilitate professional networking, knowledge sharing, and evidence-informed practice.

          Methods

          An integrative literature review was conducted to identify research published between 1990 and 2015. Search strategies sourced electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL), snowball references, and tables of contents of 3 journals. Papers that evaluated social media use by health care professionals (unless within an education framework) using any research design (except for research protocols or narrative reviews) were included. Standardized data extraction and quality assessment tools were used.

          Results

          Overall, 72 studies were included: 44 qualitative (including 2 ethnographies, 26 qualitative descriptive, and 1 Q-sort) and 20 mixed-methods studies, and 8 literature reviews. The most common methods of data collection were Web-based observation (n=39), surveys (n=23), interviews (n=11), focus groups (n=2), and diaries (n=1). Study quality was mixed. Social media studied included Listservs (n=22), Twitter (n=18), general social media (n=17), discussion forums (n=7), Web 2.0 (n=3), virtual community of practice (n=3), wiki (n=1), and Facebook (n=1). A range of health care professionals were sampled in the studies, including physicians (n=24), nurses (n=15), allied health professionals (n=14), followed by health care professionals in general (n=8), a multidisciplinary clinical specialty area (n=9), and midwives (n=2). Of 36 virtual communities, 31 were monodiscipline for a discrete clinical specialty. Population uptake by the target group ranged from 1.6% to 29% (n=4). Evaluation using related theories of “planned behavior” and the “technology acceptance model” (n=3) suggests that social media use is mediated by an individual’s positive attitude toward and accessibility of the media, which is reinforced by credible peers. The most common reason to establish a virtual community was to create a forum where relevant specialty knowledge could be shared and professional issues discussed (n=17). Most members demonstrated low posting behaviors but more frequent reading or accessing behaviors. The most common Web-based activity was request for and supply of specialty-specific clinical information. This knowledge sharing is facilitated by a Web-based culture of collectivism, reciprocity, and a respectful noncompetitive environment. Findings suggest that health care professionals view virtual communities as valuable knowledge portals for sourcing clinically relevant and quality information that enables them to make more informed practice decisions.

          Conclusions

          There is emerging evidence that health care professionals use social media to develop virtual communities to share domain knowledge. These virtual communities, however, currently reflect tribal behaviors of clinicians that may continue to limit knowledge sharing. Further research is required to evaluate the effects of social media on knowledge distribution in clinical practice and importantly whether patient outcomes are significantly improved.

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          Most cited references 169

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          Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement

          David Moher and colleagues introduce PRISMA, an update of the QUOROM guidelines for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses
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            Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.

            Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care.
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              Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: An integration of social capital and social cognitive theories

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                June 2016
                16 June 2016
                : 18
                : 6
                Affiliations
                1Agency for Clinical Innovation Intensive Care Coordination and Monitoring Unit NSW Health Department ChatswoodAustralia
                2Faculty of Health University of Technology Sydney SydneyAustralia
                3Sydney Nursing School University of Sydney SydneyAustralia
                4School of Nursing and Health Professions University of San Francisco San Francisco, CAUnited States
                5Oxford Brookes University Faculty of Health & Life Sciences OxfordUnited Kingdom
                6Oxford University Hospitals Oxford Institute of Nursing & Allied Health Research NHS Foundation Trust OxfordUnited Kingdom
                7University of New England School of Health ArmidaleAustralia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Kaye Rolls kaye.d.rolls@ 123456student.uts.edu.au
                Article
                v18i6e166
                10.2196/jmir.5312
                4933801
                27328967
                ©Kaye Rolls, Margaret Hansen, Debra Jackson, Doug Elliott. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 16.06.2016.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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