Ethical issues in using social media for health and health care research

Rebecca McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dramatic growth of social media in recent years has not gone unnoticed in the ealth sector. Media such as Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being used to disseminate information among health professionals and patients but, more recently, are being seen as a source of data for surveillance and research, for example by tracking public concerns or capturing discourses taking place outside traditional media outlets. This raises ethical issues, in particular the extent to which postings are considered public or private and the right to anonymity of those posting on social media. These issues are not clear cut as social media, by their nature, blur the boundary between public and private. There is a need for further research on the beliefs and expectations of those using social media in relation to how their material might be used in research. In contrast, there are areas where the ethical issues are more clear cut, such as when individuals are active participants in research, where traditional considerations apply. © 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-301
Number of pages3
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Social media Ethics


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