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  1. 1


    Agreed, “encouraging researchers to communicate with the public” needs more thought. Is there a risk of providing another avenue for direct marketing?
    I mean, media corporations are the usual outlet for claims from the white-coat sector and when was the last time anyone asked about financial conflicts of interest.
    Why would transparency be better on Twitter?
    Why would any profit-based company pay out for public education that would decrease demand for their products?
    Why would a researcher in vaccines for diarrheal diseases, dependent on a high profile for attracting funding, want to say a word in favour of soap and clean water?

  2. 2
    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    I think you answer you own question Trevor. It’s much easier for undeclared conflicts of interest to be pointed out now, or for such general concerns to be raised in a public forum.

  3. 3


    This is a good article, as it starts to drag the discussion in Australia into the reality of the growing but still very nascent, international “open source” medical research movement, where everything from going beyond traditional RCTs (e.g using crowd sourced data), through to crowd sourced commentary upon results, is utilized, often within particular vertical “disease” e-patient communities, where there is a strong element of trust.

    One of the interesting features of such (mainly originally USA based) communities is that there are often significant number of Australian e-patient participators, but few Australian researchers.

    Meanwhile back in Australia, most of the discussion is still about the one way propagation of whatever views are held by various lobby groups or researchers. All that has been updated is the use of a more diverse set of media, that are slightly more accessible.

  4. 4


    I live and work in Darwin (which is pretty isolated for my standards) and during the last 1 year I’ve gotten more active on Twitter. I just returned from a Youth and PCEHR Forum organized by NEHTA and was honored to represent the Northern Territory.
    A Tweeter known as Rachel De Dain (@rdesain) working with NEHTA had recommended me as a participant in the Forum.

    I used my time after the Forum to meet other Tweeters who share the same passion for #hcsmanz (health care and social media), who work in varied settings i.e. Youth Wellbeing and Technology Cooperative Research Centre, the Burnett Institute, HealthyStartups and HelloMedical.

    I would highly recommend researchers to experiment with social media and work out how it can work in their best interest.

  5. 5

    ron batagol

    All of this is good stuff. But it’s not an either/or situation. Having said that, in my view it does require education of doctors and all other health professionals about the advantages of the social media as summarised in the comments, whilst still being mindful that unfettered robust and enthusiastic exchange of ideas and information on social media outlets may indeed, albeit unwittingly, result in the potential breaching of confidentiality or professional standards and/or violation of patient-doctor boundaries, as the MJA points out. Therefore the challenge is to incorporate the educating of health professionals towards embracing social media and its potential, whilst also remaining savvy and alert to the pitfalls, rather than to decry their conservative reticence and resort to trying to drag them ” kicking and screaming” into the 21st century.


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