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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
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Effectiveness of structured education through social media to medical students


1 Public Health Specialist, Jodhpur Cantt, Rajasthan, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, Army College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
3 Public Health Specialist, Jalandhar Cantt, Punjab, India
4 PhD Scholar, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
5 Specialist, Hospital Administration, Firozepur Cantt, Punjab, India
6 Executive Director, National Health Systems Resource Centre, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission03-Apr-2021
Date of Decision05-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance05-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
R Vishnuprasad,
No. 22, Muthu Nagar, Muthirayarpalayam, Puducherry - 605 009
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_246_21

  Abstract 


Background: Various advantages are advocated for Internet-based tools over in-person/print educational materials as these tend to curb certain barriers of communication. Social media can be used productively in improving knowledge of the mass. The present study was carried out with an aim to evaluate the effectiveness of structured educational programs through social media to medical college students. Methods: The present study was carried out as an uncontrolled before-after intervention study among students of fourth and sixth semester of a medical college in New Delhi. The study sample comprised 195 students for whom structured education materials on Disaster management and Pharmacovigilance were shared using social media platforms. Statistical Analysis: Data entry was done using MS Excel 2013 and Data Analysis using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) version 21.0. McNemar test was used to measure statistical significance between paired proportions and paired t-test was applied to test for difference in means. A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: The mean age of the study participants was 20.75 ± 1.2 years. The proportion of study participants who preferred receiving education material more than once a day increased from 33.5% at the beginning of study to 44.1% after the intervention (P < 0.001). Majority of the students stated Facebook as the most preferred media at the beginning (56.6%), and this increased to 96.3% at the end of intervention. Mean posttest scores of all study participants were found to significantly high as compared to that of pretest score with respect to the intervention subjects (7.9 ± 2.6–15 ± 2.6, P < 0.001). Conclusion: Learning materials in digital formats for medical education when shared through social media platforms positively influence the knowledge of the students. The preferences of students on type of social media platform for such learning activities are varied.

Keywords: E-learning material, medical education, social media, students



How to cite this URL:
Vishnuprasad R, Tejus A, Pasricha SK, Singh G, Ojha D, Kotwal A. Effectiveness of structured education through social media to medical students. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=336319




  Introduction Top


Social media platforms refer to various Internet-based social networking websites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram. These platforms are tools that allow users to communicate with each other by various means. The penetration of social media in recent years has reached such a level that they are nearly omnipresent. The number of Facebook users rose from just 1 million in 2004 to over 2.3 billion in 2018.[1] In the year 2014, The Pew Internet Project reported that 89% of 18–29-year olds use online social networking sites, while this was 82%, 65%, and 49% among 30–49-year olds, 50–64-year olds, and 65 years or older, respectively.[2] Social media have modernized interpersonal communication presenting unique opportunities for communicating behavioral interventions.[3] Online social network use is no longer restricted to communicating with friends and family; users now seek out and discuss information about health.[4] Various advantages are advocated for internet-based tools over in-person/print educational materials as these tend to curb certain barriers of communication, make available searchable content, and augment interactivity.[5] Learner engagement is considered as a significant advantage of social media use. Active learning can be promoted by encouraging interaction and learner-generated content with the help of social media use.[6] A systematic review[7] on the use of social media for graduate medical education reported that Twitter, podcasts, and blogs were the commonly used tools to involve learners and enrich education. YouTube and wikis were frequently applied in teaching technical skills. In spite of the fact that the use of social media in medical education is extensive, few studies tried to recognize if the use of social media influences the learners and if so, how.[7] With vast penetration among youth, social media can be used productively in improving knowledge of the mass. Educational interventions through such platforms may prove useful in the near future, especially among the young students. The present study was carried out with to evaluate the effectiveness of structured educational programs (with specific learning objectives for each session) through social media to medical college students, with an aim to inform the medical educators about the role of this modality.


  Methods Top


An uncontrolled before-after intervention study was conducted from January to December 2018. Students of fourth and sixth semester of a medical college in New Delhi, North India comprised the study population. All the available and eligible students who are willing to participate in the study were included. Informed written consent was obtained from all the students. Institute ethical committee certification was obtained before the inception of the study. The study sample comprised 200 students (100 in fourth semester and 100 in sixth semester) of both sexes. Students of fourth and sixth semester were selected, as the subject departments of the study was one of the major subjects during these semesters. Students who are not using any form of social media (one student) and students unwilling to receive messages in their social media were excluded from the study (two students). Two of the students were unavailable both during pretest and posttest, resulting in a final sample of 195 who participated in the study, whereas data for both pretest and posttest could be collected for 175 students. A posteriori, the sample had an adequate power (80%) to detect an effect size of 0.784 (Cohen's d) for a mean difference in pre- and post-test score of 7.1 ± 3.4, in before and after design of single sample. Data were collected using a predesigned questionnaire, which was pretested among an intermediate (fifth semester) batch students (30) who did not participate in the study. Structured images/photographs/infographics/videos/animations comprised the study intervention materials (with predetermined specific learning objectives for each session). These focused on imparting essential knowledge with respect to Disaster management and Pharmacovigilance, based on the defined curriculum of the students participating in the study. During the pretest, social media platform of students' preference was inquired upon and subsequently based on these observations; the three social media platforms were selected. The intervention materials were shared with the students using three major social media platforms, namely, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube at regular intervals. In all three platforms together, the frequency of sharing intervention material was 7–10 in a week. Care was taken to avoid sharing the same material on multiple occasions. The intervention through these social media platforms was carried out for a period of 2 months from March 2018 to April 2018. It was ensured that the intervention subjects (Disaster Management and Pharmacovigilance) were not taught to them in college during the intervention period. However, after the intervention period and posttest, the students were taught these subjects as per existing curriculum plans. After the decided intervention period, the knowledge of the students was re-evaluated. Data entry was done using MS Excel 2013 and Data Analysis using IBM SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) version 21.0, New York, United States. Descriptive statistics were depicted as means and proportions for continuous and categorical variables, respectively. McNemar test was used to test for statistical significance between paired proportions and paired t-test was applied to test for difference in means. A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


Majority of the study participants were in the age group of 20–21 years. The mean age of the study participants was 20.75 ± 1.2 years. The number of male and female participants in the study was similar [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of study participants based on demographic characteristics (n=195)

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The proportion of study participants who preferred receiving education material more than once a day increased from 33.5% at the beginning of the study to 44.1% after the intervention (P = 0.001). Majority stated Facebook as the most preferred media at the beginning (56.6%), and this increased to 96.3% at the end of intervention. At the beginning of intervention, nearly, one-third of the participants stated that they prefer to receive intervention material at any time of the day, and this proportion increased to 48.9% at the end of intervention (P = 0.031). Proportion of students using Apps related to health and medical curriculum increased significantly after the intervention program as compared to that of preintervention status (P = 0.001) [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of study participants based on social media usage and characteristics during pre- and post-test

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Mean posttest scores of all study participants were found to be significantly high as compared to that of pretest score with respect to the intervention subjects, namely, disaster management (4.5 ± 1.9–9 ± 1.9, P = 0.001) and pharmacovigilance (3.4 ± 1.7–6 ± 1.7, P = 0.001) each considered individually as well as a combined score together (7.9 ± 2.6–15 ± 2.6, P = 0.001). The mean difference in pre- and post-test score was 7.1 ± 3.4 [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Distribution of study participants based on pretest and posttest scores (n = 175). *Vertical bars indicate standard deviation

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Majority of the participants (50.3%) responded to educational materials in the form of queries and comments. Response to Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube was 40%, 48.7%, and 2%, respectively.


  Discussion Top


The utilization of e-learning in medical education reportedly found to be effective and has benefits in the process of learning in the past.[8],[9] E-learning and media sharing may improve learning by providing information at a location and time that is convenient for the learner, and at the same time, it provides repeated access to the learning material for reinforcement and revision.[10],[11] Nature of the learning experience, synchronicity of participation, and presence or absence of face-to-face instruction are some of the identified characteristics of e-learning.[12]

A study among ninety medical college students in Nashik, India, found that 81.3% believed that M-learning in the form of education materials through mobile platforms would benefit learning.[13] In the present study, all the students were using social media platforms except one and all the students were willing to receive educational materials through social media except two students. These numbers were significantly higher as compared to similar setting study.[13] In another study among health-care professionals (HCP) in Mangalore, India, YouTube was found to be the most preferred media (38.8%), followed by WhatsApp (38.3%) and Facebook (29%) for translating research evidence into clinical practice. Majority of HCP in the study believed that social media enable the accessibility of wide range of evidence in short time for research applications.[14] YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook were among the three most preferred social networks among the participant students of the present study too.

Another group of researchers reported that the most used social networking sites for educational purpose by medical educators were Facebook (52%) and Twitter (47%), followed by YouTube (11%).[15] It is an important finding that even the medical educators have similar views as the medical students as these findings were concordant with that of the present study regarding type of social networking sites preferred by the students. However, medical educators were not asked about mobile messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.

A pilot study among 38 residents of a teaching hospital in Mumbai showed that, after WhatsAppbased discussion for 3-month duration, the proportion of correct responses increased from 69.1% (prediscussion) to 73.6% (postdiscussion) (P = 0.031).[16] A similar significant increase in post-test scores was noted in the present study too. In a study from a medical college in New Delhi, involving 69 students where discussion on interesting cases, quiz questions, and other academic issues was carried out for 4-week duration, majority of the participants expressed that the discussions were very useful with minimal disturbance to the everyday routine. It was also reported that 65% of the participants actively participated in such discussions.[17] The proportion of students who actively participated in the form of queries and comments was almost similar in the present study (50.3%). A study among 150 medical students in a medical school in the UK noted a significant correlation between educational message viewing frequency and examination scores, while using Twitter as a platform for sharing information.[18] Another research comparing traditional lecture with video podcast observed a statistically not significant difference in knowledge gain between the two methods, though when crossed over, the cluster assigned to digital information initially performed poorly when exposed to lecture format.[19] This study depicts the influence of digital affinity among medical students in learning outcome. Another study explored the perceptions of medical educationists and students with respect to the use of social media for educational purpose and reported that only 33% of the educators used social networking sites with their students.[15] This couples with earlier study that they preferred similar sites depict that evidence-based policies are required for regulation of blooming social media use in medical education which can mitigate the adversaries for students and teachers.

In our study, proportion of students using Apps related to health and medical curriculum increased significantly and this could be because, links of certain webpages were also shared with the students using these social media platforms, which were accessed by the students or shared materials may have triggered the students for further search of online material on the subject. Such searches and webpage visits are registered as cookies in the users' device which may have led to Mobile Application suggestions for installing in the device.

Possible limitation of the present study is that it did not evaluate and compare the effectiveness of educational material through social media with that of traditional teaching methods such as lectures and demonstrations. The study could not evaluate the willingness and preferences of medical educators in utilizing these platforms for learning. However, these limitations were not within the considered objectives of the study.


  Conclusion Top


Learning materials in digital formats for medical education when shared through social media platforms positively influences the knowledge of the students. The preferences of students on the type of social media platform for such learning activities are varied. The use of social media platforms in medical education may act as a supplement in the learning process. Research works comparing the effectiveness of traditional lecture methods against those supplemented with the newer e-learning methods are required.

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to extend their gratitude to all the students who participated in the study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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