Doctors need to embrace and have a greater presence on social media, according to Dr Deshan Sebaratnam, a Staff Specialist at Liverpool Hospital and a Conjoint Senior Lecturer at UNSW. He is a senior author of a recent study on TikTok.
“People are going to social media for their health information and doctors need to inhabit that space,” he said.
“Trying to tell patients not to source information from social media just won’t work”, he says. “It’s important to have good resources that are scientifically sound out there, because not everyone’s going to go and talk to their GP.”
He says that influencers on social platforms aren’t bound by the same restrictions as doctors, so they can post compelling before and after photos. Personal stories are powerful and people respond to that emotional connection, Dr Sebaratnam says.
“Seeing a person’s journey as their acne gets better can be more meaningful to people than drier content from a doctor about statistics.”
Acne can have a huge impact on self-esteem and watching someone else’s shared experience in a TikTok video can be reassuring to others, he said.
Dr Sebaratnam’s research interests include the role of social media and how this provides a platform for commentary on skin issues. He posts regularly on Instagram at @dr.deshan.
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