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Ethics in an Age of Information Seekers: A Survey of Licensed Healthcare Providers about Online Social Networking

25 July 2011


This study examines the current beliefs and behaviors of licensed psychologists, physicians, and social workers regarding ethical use of the social networking website, Facebook©. The study utilized a survey which was adapted from ethics questionnaires used in previous research to explore professionals’ average numbers of Facebook friends, social groups, and photo albums as well as attitudes toward possible regulation of online social networking by professional organizations. Statistically significant differences were found among groups regarding the degree to which they wanted guidance on ethically managing technology like social networking websites, with psychologists and social workers desiring more guidance than physicians. Overall, this study shows that the majority of psychologists, physicians, and social workers now frequently use Facebook, often providing personal information on their profiles that may include that which is not generally disclosed in a client-therapist or doctor-patient relationship.


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