Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Medical professionalism in the age of online social networking
  1. J S Guseh II1,
  2. R W Brendel2,
  3. D H Brendel3
  1. 1
    Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2
    Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3
    Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to David H Brendel, Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, Massachusetts 02478, USA; dbrendel{at}


The rapid emergence and exploding usage of online social networking forums, which are frequented by millions, present clinicians with new ethical and professional challenges. Particularly among a younger generation of physicians and patients, the use of online social networking forums has become widespread. In this article, we discuss ethical challenges facing the patient–doctor relationship as a result of the growing use of online social networking forums. We draw upon one heavily used and highly trafficked forum, Facebook, to illustrate the elements of these online environments and the ethical challenges peculiar to their novel form of exchange. Finally, we present guidelines for clinicians to negotiate responsibly and professionally their possible uses of these social forums.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

  • The concise argument
    Søren Holm