Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Social media guidelines: recommendations for the development of undergraduate pharmacy student guidelines.

Brown, A.; MacLure, K.


A. Brown

K. MacLure


Background and Objective: The ubiquitous nature of social media (SoMe) involves merging of personal-professional personas. Healthcare organisations publish guidance on how to use social media responsibly. However, inappropriate use of social media continues to be evident amongst undergraduate pharmacy students with potential implications for their fitness to practise. There is evidence of a lack of understanding of how online behaviour, or e-professionalism, relates to the student code of conduct. There remains a need within the pharmacy undergraduate student population for guidance which will be similarly acceptable and directly applicable to their context. Objective: to develop peer-group designed recommendations for pharmacy student SoMe guidelines. Design: Qualitative, activity-based focus groups were conducted based on a topic guide informed by existing literature and a previous study by the research team. The topic guide also formed the framework for thematic data analysis. The study was approved by university Ethical Review Committee. Results: Focus groups were conducted across four Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) stages (S1: n=10; S2: n=5; S3: n=8; S4: n=6). All except one participant (n=29) were aged under 24 with near equal male:female ratio (n=15:14). The majority of participants did not use SoMe guidelines despite daily SoMe use, but rather used personal judgement to decide on appropriate SoMe content. Some elements of existing guidance were seen as valuable but lacked balance of content/tone and examples of appropriate SoMe behaviours. There was no agreement on 'appropriate behaviours' however general concerns emerged around guidance impinging personal personas and impacting perceptions of e-professionalism. Conclusion: Social media guidelines for undergraduate pharmacy students should address concerns surrounding eprofessionalism. These should include examples of good practice, yet should contain clear 'points for practice' in a simple, user-friendly format alongside a lecture or video presentation. Whilst students were aware of profession-specific guidance, student-specific guidance was viewed as beneficial to support undergraduate students, in particular with the blurred boundaries between personal-professional personas. The results of this study have been used to inform the delivery of SoMe support for students within the MPharm course. Further work is being undertaken to explore the definition of appropriate online behaviours and provision of guidance as part of doctoral studies.


BROWN, A. and MACLURE, K. 2017. Social media guidelines: recommendations for the development of undergraduate pharmacy student guidelines. Presented at the 46th European symposium on clinical pharmacy: science meets practice: towards evidence-based clinical pharmacy services, 9-11 October 2017, Heidelberg, Germany.

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Conference Name 46th European symposium on clinical pharmacy
Conference Location Heidelberg, Germany
Start Date Oct 9, 2017
End Date Oct 11, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 2, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 2, 2018
Keywords Social media (SoMe); Healthcare; Codes of conduct; eProfessionalism; Pharmacy students
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations