Using Social Media to Promote Evidence-Based Practice

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This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, May 2017

Cochrane Canada Workshop Details

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  • This session is an overview of three popular social media technologies

Benefits to using social media to promote EBP

  • sharing real-time information and evidence; create shared value (esp. wikis)
  • exchange on-the-go / mobile
  • daily, informal learning "spaced education"
  • social networking opportunities; aggregation and social filtering are very valuable
  • knowledge translation; knowledge management;
  • informal peer feedback and review
  • mass communication ("information push"); clinical trial accrual (any studies?)
  • interprofessional practices
  • disease prevention and management
  • extending interventions beyond reach of traditional healthcare
  • social media can be used to disseminate evidence; studies showing how social media can be used effectively might best be called: evidence-based web 2.0
  • fundamental difference between social media (and other forms of communication) is that they influence users (McLuhanesque medium/message)
  • evaluating the adoption of technologies should be evidence-based
    • learning web media for first timers is likelearning a new language; you cannot start with advanced mental models and metaphors that you have in your mother tongue; being advanced in your new language, its idioms, metaphors and culture have a strong influence on how you think in that language
    • social media change the way we communicate; write a blog for a year and your writing (and thinking) changes
    • use Twitter for a time and you will get a sense of being connected to many but understanding them on different levels
    • patterns emerge on the social web over time; the ubiquitous Facebook changes how you react to being away from friends
    • when you adopt a new social medium you start at the bottom as a single node; you make connections with some people that will form network by connecting to existing relationships or doing something that helps to create new relationships, like writing a blog post.
    • starting again in a new space is daunting especially when digital image, influence and identity are so different
    • you need to use the tools to understand what it’s like to be a node in a social network; nothing can prepare you for this experience and you won’t know what you’re doing or talking about until you learn the new language of social media

Learning goals

  • To understand blog, wiki and microblogging tools and how they might be used in EBM / knowledge management
  • To get some basic knowledge of how to select a social tool to support evidence-based practice and medical education
  • To identify major blogging and wiki platforms to create accounts, new content and social networks
  • To be able to assess issues of privacy on various social media platforms
  • To contextualize workshop information for personal use in practice, research and continuing medical education


  • To compare web 1.0 (analog, unidirectional discourse) and web 2.0 (multidirectional)
  • To discuss potential for evidence-based health care (and tenets of Cochrane Collaboration)
  • To highlight web 2.0 sites in medicine and stimulate debate

Previous similar Cochrane workshops & initiatives

Other background information

See also in this wiki

See also Evidence-based web 2.0 and Workshop on Using social software in health libraries new2.gif


Research using repetition technologies

  • SpacedEd Research
    • based on the spacing effect; people learn more effectively when presented information repeated over spaced intervals
    • questions sent via RSS, e-mail, Twitter; answers may be posted using connected devices, reflecting how health professionals communicate
  • Long A, Kerfoot BP. Online spaced education to supplement live courses. Med Ed. 2010;44:519–520.
    • adaptive spaced education boosts learning efficiency
  • Kerfoot BP. Interactive spaced education to assess and improve knowledge of clinical practice guidelines: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Surg. 2009;249(5):744–9.
    • describes novel email-based method of online education founded on the spacing effect
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