Online Program

Twitter use for professional development among public health professionals

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sabrina Islam, MS, Department of Behavioral Science and Community Health, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Mark Hart, Ed.D., M.A.L.S., Behavioral Science and Community Health, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
The use of online education and social media for professional development increases as fiscal constraints are imposed on public health agencies which traditionally sent workers to conferences for formal training. Budgetary loss escalates work burden and places limitations on professional development. The use of Twitter by public health professionals warrants investigation to identify its present application. Twitter is a microblogging website that has quadrupled its use among online adults since 2010. This growth and ability to connect professionals by field through specific Twitter features such as tweets and hashtags require an examination of how public health workers use Twitter in the workplace and for professional development. Through the utility of a survey, an electronic questionnaire was administered to Twitter users deemed active 'tweeters' involved in public health. Recruitment was conducted through the use of keyword searches such as "public health worker". A qualitative component of the survey sought to gauge the extent to which participants believe that Twitter is a valuable resource, and in what ways it has contributed to their professional development. Dynamics of Twitter interaction, specific areas of work, and task efficiency were items of interest. Preliminary findings from participants (n=55) indicate that Twitter is important for public health professionals to transmit, obtain, and exchange information. Emerging themes draw upon engagement via Twitter chats, accessibility of current information, and opportunities for network expansion. Deeper analyses of the findings will yield additional insight. As many state and county health departments face funding problems and block social networking sites from their Internet filters, examining how public health workers professionally use Twitter away from work can help shape future policy on its potential usage at work. Implications can also serve to tailor developmental strategies and continuing education for professionals in health-related fields for future use of Twitter informed through current practice.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Identify the role of Twitter in aiding workplace and professional development goals Assess the potential for Twitter utilization in shaping policy within health-related fields

Keyword(s): Professional Development, Social Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the investigator of the current study employing the use of social media with a public health perspective. I am doctoral student in the social and behavioral sciences as well as a graduate teaching assistant. I have been trained in the methods. Among my scientific interests has been research, including moderating focus groups, developing surveys, and conducting public health data collection and assessment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.