Translating Evidence Into Practice via Social Media: A Mixed-Methods Study

J Med Internet Res. 2015 Oct 26;17(10):e242. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4763.


Background: Approximately 80% of research evidence relevant to clinical practice never reaches the clinicians delivering patient care. A key barrier for the translation of evidence into practice is the limited time and skills clinicians have to find and appraise emerging evidence. Social media may provide a bridge between health researchers and health service providers.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of social media as an educational medium to effectively translate emerging research evidence into clinical practice.

Methods: The study used a mixed-methods approach. Evidence-based practice points were delivered via social media platforms. The primary outcomes of attitude, knowledge, and behavior change were assessed using a preintervention/postintervention evaluation, with qualitative data gathered to contextualize the findings.

Results: Data were obtained from 317 clinicians from multiple health disciplines, predominantly from the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, India, and Malaysia. The participants reported an overall improvement in attitudes toward social media for professional development (P<.001). The knowledge evaluation demonstrated a significant increase in knowledge after the training (P<.001). The majority of respondents (136/194, 70.1%) indicated that the education they had received via social media had changed the way they practice, or intended to practice. Similarly, a large proportion of respondents (135/193, 69.9%) indicated that the education they had received via social media had increased their use of research evidence within their clinical practice.

Conclusions: Social media may be an effective educational medium for improving knowledge of health professionals, fostering their use of research evidence, and changing their clinical behaviors by translating new research evidence into clinical practice.

Keywords: e-learning; evidence-based practice; medical informatics; social media.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Practice / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States