Practical guidance: the use of social media in oncology practice.

Posted: Feb 13, 2013
J Oncol Pract. 8. 5. e114-24.
KEYWORDS: Institutional Issues, Regulatory Issues, Web, Social Media, Cancer


Social media for clinical trial promotion is promising but not without risks.


Why this item may be useful

Physician use of social media may fall into one of three categories: professional education/continuous professional development, public health messaging or education, and direct engagement with specific patients for purposes of clinical care. Each category may introduce a variety of considerations such as licensure limitations, copyright laws, conflicts of interest, role clarification, confidentiality and patient care liability. With regard to clinical trials, social media shows great promise to promote overall awareness and participation. However, when using trial-specific social media outlets, providers must consider the same regulations that apply to print media including IRB review of content and design to ensure they meet institutional guidelines and avoid coercion. In addition, patient-provider interactions pertaining to specific trials may not be advisable with respect to patient privacy, accuracy of patient postings andownership of data.


  • These guidelines are based on the impressions and consensus opinions of a working group of ASCO Integrated Media and Technology Committee members.
  • Specific considerations for use of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media for the conduct of clinical research are provided.
  • Several recruitment strategies that have been associated with higher accrual may be adapted to multiple social media applications. These include: use of an interactive computer program, attendance at an education session, addition of a health questionnaire, and use of a video about a specific condition.
  • The online version of the article includes a glossary of basic social media terminology.