Background: The vogue of social media has changed interpersonal communication as well as learning and teaching opportunities in medical education. The most popular social media tool is Facebook. Its features provide potentially useful support for the education of medical students but it also means that some new challenges will have to be faced.
Aims: This review aimed to find out how Facebook has been integrated into medical education. A systematical review of the current literature and grade of evidence is provided, research gaps are identified, links to prior reviews are drawn and implications for the future are discussed.
Method: The authors searched six databases. Inclusion criteria were defined and the authors independently reviewed the search results. The key information of the articles included was methodically abstracted and coded, synthesized and discussed in the categories study design, study participants’phase of medical education and study content.
Results: 16 articles met all inclusion criteria. 45-96% of health care professionals in all phases of their medical education have a Facebook profile. Most studies focused on Facebook and digital professionalism. Unprofessional behavior and privacy violations occurred in 0.02% to 16%. In terms of learning and teaching environment, Facebook is well accepted by medical students. It is used to prepare for exams, share online material, discuss clinical cases, organize face-to-face sessions and exchange information on clerkships. A few educational materials to teach Facebook professionalism were positively evaluated. There seems to be no conclusive evidence as to whether medical students benefit from Facebook as a learning environment on higher competence levels.
Discussion: Facebook influences a myriad of aspects of health care professionals, particularly at undergraduate and graduate level in medical education. Despite an increasing number of interventions, there is a lack of conclusive evidence in terms of its educational effectiveness. Furthermore, we suggest that digital professionalism be integrated in established and emerging competency-based catalogues.