Professional conduct among Registered Nurses in the use of online social networking sites

Authors


Correspondence to S. Levati:

e-mail: sara.levati@gcu.ac.uk

Abstract

Aim

To explore the use of Facebook by Registered Nurses (RNs) in Italy and the United Kingdom (UK), focusing on the disclosure of personal and professional information.

Background

The use of online social network sites among medical students and doctors is posing new ethical challenges to the profession. To date, little research has explored the use of online social networking sites among nurses.

Design

A cross-national survey.

Methods

Data were assessed on 124 nurses’ profile pages, readily available without viewing restrictions. Content analysis and inferential statistics were undertaken to describe usage and identify similarities and differences between the two country-groups of nurses. Data were collected between December 2011–January 2012.

Results

Overall, UK and Italian RNs showed a similar use of the online platform, tending to disclose personal pictures, home town and current home location, as well as updates and comments related to personal and work-related activities. A statistically significant higher proportion of nurses in Italy disclosed their sexual orientation. In both groups, a few cases were observed of potentially unprofessional content in relation to the use of alcohol, nudity and material of a salacious nature.

Conclusion

Although most of the UK and Italy RNs appear to be aware of the risks posed by their online exposure, their online activity indicates the blurring of their personal and professional lives; this is posing new ethical, legal and professional challenges to members of the nursing profession. Further research and debate is encouraged at national and international level.

Ancillary