University of Oulu

Mani, S.A., Uma, E., John, J. et al. Perceptions of professional social media interaction with patients and faculty members – a comparative survey among dental students from Malaysia and Finland. BMC Med Educ 23, 384 (2023).

Perceptions of professional social media interaction with patients and faculty members : a comparative survey among dental students from Malaysia and Finland

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Author: Mani, Shani Ann1; Uma, Eswara2; John, Jacob3;
Organizations: 1Department of Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 50603, Malaysia
2Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Manipal University College Malaysia, Melaka, 75150, Malaysia
3Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 50603, Malaysia
4Medical Informatics and Data Analysis Research Group, University of Oulu, Oulu, 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-26


Background: Professional and personal boundaries are blurred with the wide application of social media (SM) in the health professions line of work. Little is known about practice of extending friend requests to patients and faculty members among dental students, which encompass a part of E-professionalism. The aim of this study is to assess the factors associated with the perceptions and practices of interactions with patients and faculty on SM among dental students from Malaysia and Finland.

Methods: Dental students from 4 institutions in Malaysia and Finland completed self-administered questionnaires on the practices and perceptions of SM use. The main variables assessed were the perceptions and practices of student-patient and student-faculty communication on SM, between the two countries. Students’ country, age, gender, time spent on SM and perceived importance of communicating dental related aspects over SM were analysed as potential explanatory variables. Crosstabulation was used to estimate the distributions of the response variables by the background characteristics. Multivariate analyses were performed using a dichotomous logistic regression model to investigate relevant associations between the responses and the explanatory variables independent from other factors.

Results: A total of 643 students completed the survey in March-April 2021. More Malaysian students agreed with “guiding patients online is a new responsibility for dentists in the digital age” compared to Finnish students (86.4% vs. 73.4%). Similarly, significantly more Malaysian students befriended patients (14.1% vs. 1%) and invited faculty to be friends on SM (73.6% vs. 11.8%). Expectedly, clinical year students befriended patients more than pre-clinical (13.8% vs. 6.8%). Significantly more students who felt ‘communication of dental related issues over SM’ were likely to extend friend requests to faculty rather than accept patient friend requests.

Conclusions: Social media regulations and socio-cultural practices contribute to dental students’ attitudes and behaviour when befriending patients and faculty members on social media. Future dental curriculum should incorporate guidelines for professional communication on social media based on local and cultural needs. Students’ should be encouraged to interact with their patients using professional identities on social media.

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Series: BMC medical education
ISSN: 1472-6920
ISSN-E: 1472-6920
ISSN-L: 1472-6920
Volume: 23
Issue: 1
Article number: 384
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-023-04359-1
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 313 Dentistry
113 Computer and information sciences
516 Educational sciences
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