Social media both a 'blessing' and a 'curse' for healthcare

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In a recently published commentary in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Paul Pirraglia of the Providence (R.I.) VA Medical Center and the Alpert Medical School at Brown University, and Richard Kravitz of the University of California Davis, write about new opportunities and ethical concerns in healthcare social media. They call the medium's ability to adapt to change "both a blessing and a curse," the latter of which is due to the fact that content can change on a daily basis. That makes it "difficult for readers to assess the provenance of scholarly material," Pirraglia and Kravitz write.

Conversely, they say, it is a blessing because "authors and editors are empowered to post information on conflicts of interest as they arise, almost in real time. … We can post information regarding the role of conflicts in the presentation of medical information," they continue. "And, perhaps ironically, we can use social media outlets themselves to promote the need for complete disclosure of conflicts of interest." Commentary