Social media, palliative care and me: a personal view

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 13TH EAPC WORLD CONGRESS IN PRAGUE…

Sean Hughes, Research Associate (InSup-C), International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK

Dr Sean Hughes

Dr Sean Hughes

One of the more interesting aspects of this year’s EAPC Congress was the emerging importance of social media in the palliative care arena. The topic was the subject of a few formal sessions and presentations, but was prominent in casual conversations in the corridors and coffee breaks and at stands in the market place.

‘#EAPC’ enabled Twitter feeds with comment and announcements on congress activity and mobile devices were in constant use around the venue. As a relative novice with an interest in how to get the most out of what social media might offer, I was keen to find out more.

Jim Cleary speaking in the  Meet the Experts session

Jim Cleary speaking in the Meet the Experts session

Things did not start well. A clash in the programme meant that I did not get to the workshop on the first day of Congress. With that disappointment behind me, I made it to the Meet the Expert presentation by Jim Cleary and Frank Ferris in the early hours of the next day. What impressed (and perplexed) was the range of social media platforms. These included the usual suspects: Facebook ™, Twitter ™, YouTube ™ and the like, but many that I had never heard of, let alone used. We learned that Google+ ™ with its hangout and document-sharing facilities is amongst the fastest growing in a rapidly advancing scene.

Tips on how to manage information overload using filtering techniques and careful time allocation were helpful. It was clear just how useful social media could be in increasing general awareness of palliative and end of life care. Jim told how an older relative in rural Australia was able to comment on the state of services in rural Ukraine through following his social media posts without leaving her armchair!

But what of the pitfalls? Aside from the issue of how to efficiently handle and filter large amounts of information, a critical eye is required as to what to trust and what to ‘share-on’. As with all advances, unintended consequences and the permanence of a digital footprint need to be considered. As Jim and Frank put it: ‘what happens in Las Vegas, stays on the internet’, or words to that effect.

At a later session, Jacob Strand, a palliative care physician, sensitively explored the professional dilemmas inherent in social media contact with clients. Just how far can you go in these connections and what of professional boundaries? On the other hand, Jim pointed to the potential benefits in using social media in patient and family discussions and other consultations. Some create two social media profiles to separate personal and professional lives in the digital sphere.

Social media was a prominent topic in casual conversations and at stands in the market place: delegates talking to members of EAPC social media team, Avril Jackson (centre) and Anthony Greenwood (second left)

Social media was a prominent topic in casual conversations and at stands in the market place: delegates talking to members of EAPC social media team, Avril Jackson (centre) and Anthony Greenwood (second left)

For me, only more questions. Prominent among these is how social media could be used as a research tool. In particular, how I might use it for our study on integrated palliative care (InSup-C)? Any answers out there?

Find out more…
PowerPoint presentations from the 13th EAPC World Congress will soon be available to view on the EAPC website. Please follow the blog, Facebook,  and Twitter @EAPCOnlus feeds for further announcements.  

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2 Responses to Social media, palliative care and me: a personal view

  1. Pingback: Social media, palliative care and me: a personal view | EAPC Blog | painpolicy

  2. Pingback: Social media, palliative care and me: a personal view | EAPC Blog | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

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