University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

By the same authors

“Blurred boundaries”: When nurses and midwives give anti-vaccination advice on Facebook.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
JournalNursing Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022


Background: Nurses and midwives have a professional obligation to promote health and prevent disease, and therefore have an essential role to play in vaccination. Despite this, some nurses and midwives have been found to adopt an anti-vaccination stance and promulgate
misinformation about vaccines, often using Facebook as a platform.

Research question: This paper reports one component and dataset from a larger study; “the positives, perils and pitfalls of Facebook for nurses”. It explores the specific issue of nurses and midwives who take an anti-vaccination stance, deemed to be unprofessional by crossing professional boundaries, and by providing medical information on Facebook that is not within their scope of practice.

Participants: Data were collected via an online worldwide survey to nurse and midwife participants, distributed and ‘snowballed’ through relevant nursing and midwifery groups on Facebook. In total 1644 Registered Nurses, and Midwives, and Enrolled Nurses worldwide attempted the online survey. Semi-structured interviews occurred with 17 participants in Australia.

Ethical considerations: Ethical processes and procedures have been adhered to relating to privacy, confidentiality and anonymity of the participants.

Findings/results: A mixed-methods approach was used including descriptive and content analysis of the quantitative survey data and thematic analysis of the qualitative interview data. The main theme ‘blurred boundaries’, was generated which comprised three subthemes: ‘follow the science, ‘abuse of power and erosion of trust’ and ‘the moral and ethical responsibility to safeguard public health’. The results offer an important and unique understanding into how nurses and midwives interpret the conduct of fellow health professionals as unprofessional and crossing the professional boundary if they used Facebook to promulgate anti-vaccination messages as online medical advice.

Conclusion: There are many positives and negatives for nurses and midwives associated with
using Facebook. In this paper, the theme ‘blurred boundaries’ offers an overall understanding
of how nurses and midwives interpret the behaviour of their colleagues who espouse antvaccination sentiment giving medical advice online

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