The Value of Social Media for Professional Engagement

JWHPT Social Media Engagement Series – Part One

As researchers, clinicians, and students, we have the opportunity to utilize social media to complement traditional methods of engaging with and disseminating research. Let’s discuss the impact of social media on research engagement and better understand the value in utilizing social media to support professional goals.

Does social media help enhance circulation and user content engagement? A study aimed to determine if social media release impacted the circulation of evidence based research in the field of clinical pain sciences found that user engagement with the content was higher in the subsequent week when promoted on social media in comparison to the controls (Allen, Stanton, Di Pietro, & Moseley, 2013). The value of this comes from the meaning and the utility that healthcare practitioners place on getting information from social media. The value could be high as research has shown that health care professionals view virtual communities as valuable knowledge portals for sourcing clinically relevant and quality information that enables them to make more informed practice decisions (Rolls, Hansen, Jackson, & Elliott, 2016). 

What’s the value in professional social media engagement? Once value in obtaining clinically relevant information from social media is recognized, there could be some appreciable benefits. One benefit of social media use is that it promotes discussion and interprofessional engagement. A 2016 study surveying 587 international scientists assessed use of social media. The scientists, primarily life science academics, reported that social media was a more timely way to participate in helpful knowledge exchange with global colleagues (Collins, Shiffman, & Rock, 2016). Another benefit reported is that social media promotes access to continuing education. Lastly, and potentially the most impactful finding, is that social media can bridge the gap between research to utilization of research in clinical practice. 

In a recent JWHPT editorial, Time to Get Social!, Editor-in-Chief, Cynthia M. Chiarello, PT, PhD, shares the following message: “In essence, the structure of peer review produces a time lag between completing research, journal acceptance, and publication. All researchers would like to inform the widest audience about their findings as rapidly as possible. I learned that social media was just another way to communicate about research presented in journals.” (Chiarello, 2019). If you follow the Journal of Women’s Health Physical therapy social media accounts, you’ll see that our purpose is much greater than simply announcing new articles. What we are really seeking is to enhance impact by promoting engagement between readers and authors through scholarly discussion. Moreover, we seek to translate knowledge into clinical practice. In order to do so, we invite you to connect with us on your preferred social media app, participate in our virtual JWHPT Journal Club webinars, and most importantly, keep us on our toes with your clinical commentary.


  1. Allen HG, Stanton TR, Di Pietro F, Moseley GL. Social media release increases dissemination of original articles in the clinical pain sciences. PLOS One 2013; 8: e68914.

  2. Rolls, K., Hansen, M., Jackson, D., Elliott, D. (2016). How Health Care Professionals Use Social Media to Create Virtual Communities: An Integrative Review. Journal of medical Internet research, 18(6), e166. doi:10.2196/jmir.5312

  3. Kimberley Collins, David Shiffman, Jenny Rock (2016, October 12) How Are Scientists Using Social Media in the Workplace? Retrieved from

  4. Chiarello, Cynthia M. Time to Get Social! Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy. 2019; 43(4):157-158. doi: 10.1097/JWH.0000000000000154

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