With a response rate of 35%, the study was comparable to other studies conducted within the collective of the Young Forum of the DGMKG and, thus, was considered as acceptable [12, 13].
Social media has gained increasing importance in the field of medical education in general. Due to increasing digitalization, teaching and organization of education has undergone essential changes . The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the drive toward digitalization of medical education globally . Social media, in particular, provides unique opportunities for the healthcare industry, serving as a communication medium, marketing tool, and source of data . Because of its heavy use in private settings, social media becomes more and more important in medical education as well. In 2017, an international study showed that 75% of students used social media in private, whilst 20% used it for educational purposes . In Germany, social media is used extensively in medical schools. Seventy-three percent of medical students use social media for educative purposes . Only 54% of OMFS residents use social media for educational content. Social media enhances medical education in terms of real-time communication, interaction with experts and increased creativity . However, social media still plays no formal part of medical education. This is not only because medical education is, in general, taught clinically, very conservatively and traditionally but also because of concerns in data privacy . For OMFS residents, privacy settings seemed relevant to 30% of participants. Protection of data privacy is, especially in Germany, a very sensitive topic, which is hard to combine with privacy settings of most social media platforms. Ethics, privacy and a certain code of behavior are necessary to include social media, chat tools in particular, into medical education .
In terms of continuing medical education (CME), industry-sponsored CME and marketing is dominantly available. A certain bias is suspected in these educational materials [22, 23]. Rising use of social media may offer non-industry-sponsored, evidence-based CME to physicians, as around 70% of physicians reported using social media professionally in 2012 . However, a study by Flynn et al. showed that social media only modestly drives physicians to evidence-based CME options. In 2017, out of all tested social media platforms (email, Twitter, Facebook), Facebook offered highest click through rates. Although reaching audience via Facebook appears better than by e-mail, Facebook regulations limit physician organizations to target its members . OMFS residents mainly use YouTube (65%), Instagram (48%), ResearchGate (25%) and WhatsApp (16%) to access OMFS-related content. Facebook, therefore, does not seem too relevant. However, as Instagram and WhatsApp belong to Facebook, regulations apply for these platforms as well. Subsequently, 51% of OMFS residents held concerns regarding the accuracy of the provided content. Considering residency programs, this study shows demand for a social media presence of the German Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (DGMKG). Eighty-four percent welcomed a social media channel. This matches international results. In the US, for example, only 29.7% of otolaryngological residency programs have social media profiles. This may prevent an opportunity to increase communication with the public via these technologies and to offer evidence-based post-graduate education.
During the last years there has been an increasing number of social media accounts created by surgical departments with the purpose of transmitting educational content to surgical residents. This development might be partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures of social distancing it brought along [9, 26]. Current studies by Yang et al. evaluated the existence, activity (number of posts, engagement rate, number of accounts followed. etc.) and number of followers of Instagram accounts of all residency programs in oral and maxillofacial surgery in the United States. While, in 2020, fewer than 20% of programs utilized Instagram, an exponential growth was demonstrated during the second half of 2020, with more than 50% of all residency programs managing an Instagram account in January 2021. This was mainly attributed to the urgent need for rapid virtual communication in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, compared to other related surgical disciplines, e.g., plastic surgery, experience with and use of social media seems to be significantly lower in oral and maxillofacial surgery [10, 27].
Because the potential benefits are evident and the development has now been accelerated, we should anticipate a constant further increase of social media use in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency worldwide. It is essential to closely monitor content and utilization strategies to avoid medicolegal problems and create discipline-specific concepts [28, 29].
The currently lower use of social media in oral and maxillofacial training compared to other surgical disciplines might be partly due to the sensitive area of surgery that makes anonymization harder. Another reason might be the highly specialized field that is represented in a smaller number of faculties and clinics. Still, it seems manageable to overcome these obstacles, for example, by not showing identifiable patient information/obtaining patients' consent or by collaborating with other centers to produce adequate content. For various reasons, it should also be rewarding: 1) social media is a feasible way to improve surgeons' education ; 2) clinicians and researchers already effectively use social media in different ways as a data source and to stay informed concerning the latest research results ; 3) during the COVID-19 pandemic experiences in teaching demonstrated that content regarding oral and maxillofacial surgery can be conveyed virtually in a successful manner [32, 33]; 4) experiences in other disciplines have shown that legal, professional and ethical violations are low .
It is, therefore, evident, that the use of social media in oral and maxillofacial training will provide a useful addition to surgeons' education once the relevant questions are settled.
Despite the many benefits of social media in resident training, there are some disadvantages, risks, and concerns that may affect the practitioner, the patient, or both. A distinction is made as to whether a resident uses information from others for his own training or makes his content available to others. A major factor is the scientifically often inferior quality of the content provided on social media platforms, about which more than 50% of respondents in this study also expressed concerns . This begins with the fact that it is sometimes not clear who the author of the information presented is. In addition, there is no scientific control in the sense of peer-review procedures, and even less can it be guaranteed that the patient cases shown have been treated on an evidence-based level. Any user can share any information, even incorrect, without this having to entail any consequences. Frequently, conflicts of interest are not specified, so that economic interests or contributions that are used for marketing or advertising purposes cannot always be identified with certainty [35, 36]. It should, therefore, be recommended that residents first critically examine any information they receive via social media and read the accuracy of this in specialist literature or in medical databases or check for conflicts of interests before adopting the practice in their own portfolio. When posting medical content, another important point is the patient's rights, in particular patient privacy, which must be protected in any case. Only information about a patient to which the patient has consented may be published or shared on social media. When obtaining the patient's consent, it must be explicitly stated that the publication of patient data or photos on a social media platform is planned. Especially in cases in the maxillofacial area, there is always the possibility that the patient can be identified on the published photos [36, 37]. Furthermore, it should be noted that the doctor should strictly distinguish between a private and a professional account, since the content posted has an influence on the reputation and future career of the doctor himself as well as on the reputation of his related medical institution. In addition, care should be taken to ensure a professional doctor-patient relationship [36–38]. To avoid these concerns, there are guidelines and action recommendations for the use of social media from various international and national professional societies, such as the handout of the German Medical Association "Doctors on Social Media," which can support doctors, institutions and patients to work with social media in the correct way [39–41]. It is interesting and worrying that 43% of participants had no concerns at all about using medical content on social media. Additionally, 97% had not received any further education of social media use in a professional context. This shows a clear lack of education in this increasingly important field of social media and should be addressed soon in order to protect the users themselves as well as their patients from moral and legal consequences .