The use of social media (some) as a learning tool in healthcare education: An integrative review of the literature

Nurse Educ Today. 2020 Apr:87:104357. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2020.104357. Epub 2020 Jan 29.


Objectives: The exponential rise of social media (SoMe) has transformed how people connect, learn, and network. The use of SoMe in health education is in its infancy. The objective of the review was to examine the use of SoMe by healthcare students, professionals and educators to ascertain if the use of SoMe enhanced the learning experience.

Design: An integrative literature review was completed in February 2019.

Data sources: Three databases were used to facilitate the literature search (Medline (Ovid), Cinahl, and Scopus).

Review methods: Inclusion and exclusion criteria for the literature search were applied and PRISMA guidelines followed. The search retrieved 316 citations. Forty-seven duplicate articles were removed at this stage. Titles and abstracts were screened and 215 excluded as they were not relevant. The remaining articles were assessed for eligibility and 37 were excluded for not meeting the review requirements.

Results: Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP, 2019) checklists primarily guided the critique of the literature, with the Caldwell et al. (2011) approach used to supplement the critique of health-related research studies. 17 research studies are included in this review. Themes were developed using Braun and Clarke's (2006) approach. Five reoccurring themes emerged: communication and collaboration, a source of reference, personal development, pitfalls and ethical concerns.

Conclusions: This review provides a synthesis of SoMe use in healthcare education. SoMe is an excellent educational resource which can provide advantages in education. Areas of concern were noted and the need for improved policy and guidance highlighted. Further research and education on SoMe use in healthcare education is essential for educators, students and practitioners.

Keywords: Communication; Healthcare; Nurse education; Social media (SoMe).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Faculty
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Media*
  • Students, Health Occupations