Contemporary use of social media by consultant colorectal surgeons

Colorectal Dis. 2015 Feb;17(2):165-71. doi: 10.1111/codi.12780.


Aim: There is evidence of significant growth in the engagement of UK health-care professionals with 'open' social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media communication provides many opportunities and benefits for medical education and interaction with patients and colleagues. This study was undertaken to evaluate the uptake of public social media membership and the characteristics of use of such media channels amongst contemporary UK consultant colorectal surgeons.

Method: Colorectal surgeons were identified from the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI) national registry of colorectal mortality outcomes and were cross-referenced with the General Medical Council (GMC) register. Individuals were identified by manual searching on a number of social media platforms. Matching accounts were then examined to confirm ownership and to evaluate key markers of use.

Results: Six-hundred and eighteen individual consultant colorectal surgeons from 142 health authorities were studied (79.5% were ACPGBI members and 90.8% were male). Two-hundred and twenty-nine (37.1%) had LinkedIn profiles (37.7% male surgeons, 29.8% female surgeons; P = 0.2530). LinkedIn membership was significantly higher in ACPGBI members (P < 0.001) and in those with GMC registration before 1997 vs after this date (39% before 1997 vs 30% after 1997; P = 0.03). LinkedIn members had a mean of 62 connections (median = 22), and 19 (3.1%) surgeons had Twitter profiles with a mean of 82 (median = 16; range: 0-914) followers and their accounts were followed by a mean of 87 (median = 27; range: 0-642) persons.

Conclusion: UK consultant colorectal surgeons are less engaged with social media than reported studies from other health-care professional groups. Further education and appropriate guidance on usage may encourage uptake and confidence, particularly in younger consultants.

Keywords: Colorectal; education; online; social media; surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Colorectal Surgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Consultants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Media / trends
  • Surgeons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom