According to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), there are over 4 million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists across the globe. Many of these discuss elements of their professional lives with one another on social media, asking one another questions, sharing stories and raising awareness of key issues. In a recent analysis of pharmacists’ online conversation we’ve uncovered three key ways pharmacists use social media.
1. To address healthcare challenges
Pharmacists on X highlighted diverse healthcare challenges across the globe as they advocated for national-level reforms.
The most discussed topic, representing 6.7K posts, was mental health. Nearly 2% of these posts highlighted the widespread stigma behind discussing mental health concerns and asking for support. Some encouraged the public to actively seek mental health support while sharing helpful resources, helpline details and lifestyle advice to improve mental health. Others shared links to media and events to raise awareness among peers. For example, on LinkedIn and X, Lara Zakaria posted a link to her podcast on challenges of mental health conversations.
While pharmacists discussed mental health throughout the year, the volume of mental health posts peaked by 192% from the average in October due to World Mental Health Day, with #MentalHealthDay being used in 145 posts. The volume of mental health posts also increased by 132% from the average volume in May due to Mental Health Awareness Week, when pharmacists actively spread awareness of the need to prioritise mental health using hashtags like #mentalhealthawarenessweek and #MentalHealthMatters.
In addition, pharmacists used social media to encourage vaccination and debunk misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers. For example, Nebraska-based Jeff Weber questioned the credibility of the anti-vax movement’s information sources and ridiculed their readiness to believe vaccine hoaxes.
The growing anti-vax movement that is pushing the theory that the vaccine is causing sudden death get most of their medical info from crappy science and fringe scientists who publish most of their info in prestigious media like the Epoch Times or the Gateway Pundit. God bless
— Jeff Weber (@nebweber) January 4, 2023
To debunk anti-vaxxer claims on vaccine harm, pharmacists shared statistical evidence on how vaccination greatly reduced disabilities using hashtags like #vaccineswork, and highlighted their importance in reducing deaths.
— Jaspreet Sohal 🐝🧣 (@jassij1984) June 14, 2023
In 1,311 posts, pharmacists used social media to amplify the impact of climate change on health and the need for this to be a priority for pharmacists. Pharmacists around the world participated in many climate change discussions and conferences together, such as the COP28 meet. They shared highlights and learnings from these events across LinkedIn and X, using hashtags like #COP28 and #climatechange.
They encouraged peers to join discussions and organisations addressing the impact of climate change on health by sharing webinar links or information on organisations like the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change. To raise awareness among the public, pharmacist Robin Conibere reposted research on the various ways that climate change impacts public health.
10 ways the changing climate is creating a health 🚨
1.Floods & disease
5.Air that we breathe
7. Salty water & perilous pregnancies
8. Food insecurity
9. Stress of extreme heat
10. Millions on the move
— Aileen (Parke) O’Hare💊 (@ParkeAileen) November 16, 2023
Furthermore, pharmacists on X challenged existing health policies concerning drugs and galvanised for evidence-based national reforms to “end the war on drugs”. Australia-based pharmacist Suzanne Neilsen posted research on the efficacy of harm reduction, whilst another posted a success story article of a fentanyl addict that benefited from harm reduction. These pharmacists galvanised for harm reduction laws over drug use prevention.
Pharmacists Ivonne Atencio and Suzanne Nielsen reposted research on failed criminalisation efforts to encourage decriminalisation. Jeffrey Bratberg, a US pharmacist, leveraged the credibility of authorities in the field by posting a press release on their advocacy against decriminalisation.
— Jeffrey Bratberg, PharmD, FAPhA (@jefbratberg) April 24, 2023
2. To share educational content
During The Pharmacy Show, the UK’s major gathering for pharmacy professionals, pharmacists were active online and shared their reflections on social media platforms like LinkedIn, X and Instagram. This included knowledge about recent developments in healthcare, engaging in insightful conversations with experts and staying updated on industry trends.
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On X, eHCPs were particularly active in sharing academic content, with pharmacists engaging with different research findings, including the efficacy of drugs, medication administration and monitoring, and other clinical study outcomes.
Moreover, pharmacists on YouTube shared a variety of educational content, ranging from drug information to thoughts on career progression. For instance, Yasir Sacranie, an NHS pharmacist, and Raleigh Pharma, a pharmacist in Kenya, use their YouTube channels to make “pharmacy education more accessible” to both patients and healthcare professionals.
A similar trend was observed on TikTok, where pharmacists used this platform to give tips to patients and share advice.
3. To celebrate their profession and role in patient care
Similar to our analysis of Nurses on social media, Pharmacists made commemorative posts about their profession throughout the year. However, the volume of this conversation increased by 45% from the average on World Pharmacy Technician Day, an annual awareness day led by the FIP. Hashtags like #rxtechday and #pharmacytechnicians were used more than 1,000 times combined.
Pharmacy technicians emphasised the importance of their role, praising peers for supporting and improving patient care and safety alongside pharmacists.
Happy #PharmacyTechnicianDay to my incredible work sister. She is absolutely amazing and exudes a passion for all things #PharmacyTechnician. Her dedication and expertise make a monumental impact on the profession.@NicolaCrawley6 inspires me every day pic.twitter.com/9HJ77F5BFr
— Laura Butroid (@laurabutroid) October 17, 2023
Beyond awareness days, pharmacists like Kara O’Keefe recognised her pharmacist peers as “unsung heroes” and highlighted their contribution to ensuring that safe medications are “available around the clock 365 days a year” to patients.
Hospital pharmacists are some of the unsung heroes of our hospitals. You may or may not encounter them directly, but even when you don’t see them on the floor they are managing your medications, assessing labs, substituting and adapting orders to ensure your safety, https://t.co/PJNjp2pUpx
— Kara O'Keefe, PharmD (@kara_okeefe) October 19, 2023
On TikTok, Ethan Melillo expressed a similar sentiment, stating that “[Pharmacists] play such a huge role in a patient’s health even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.”
The world needs pharmacists and we play such a huge role in our patient’s health even if it doesnt feel like it sometimes #pharmacy #pharmacist #pharmacytiktok #medication #medicine #prescription #trending #fyp #millennialrx
On World Pharmacist Day, the pharmacist community was thanked for their contributions and dedication to healthcare. Nevertheless, on X, pharmacists called for recognition and support of the work and contributions they make to the healthcare world. Indeed, Pharmacist Melissa, who is also active on other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, stressed the importance of recognition and respect of pharmacists as well as fair pay.
If you want pharmacists to do more, pay them more.
— Pharmacist Melissa (@melsmedicines) December 7, 2023
Pharmacists ARE more than qualified enough to carry out clinical services such as supplying antibiotics (if clinically needed!)
It takes us 5 years to qualify. Pharmacy students will even graduate with a prescribing qualification soon.
Stop undermining us.
— Pharmacist Melissa (@melsmedicines) May 11, 2023
Similarly, pharmacists in India demanded recognition for their crucial role and help with immunisation programs being successful and safe. The hashtag #ફાર્માસિસ્ટો_નું_કામ_બોલે_છે, which roughly translates to “the work of pharmacists speaks volume”, was shared more than 100 times within English-language posts.
#Pharmacists have played a crucial role in the world's largest vaccination drive against Covid,yet they are often overlooked.time to raise their voices and give them the recognition they deserve!!#ફાર્માસિસ્ટો_નું_કામ_બોલે_છે@President_PCI@DrMontuPatel@IPA_India@GSPC_Gujarat pic.twitter.com/1GJaHRyChX
— Rx Sunil Patel (@snpatelph) October 18, 2023
Impacting change through social media
The online community of pharmacists are keen to highlight their vital role in patient care, educate peers and the public on healthcare developments and address key issues impacting health, from policy reforms to climate change.
Using a range of social channels they boldly use their voice to impact change and proactively participate in congresses. They are science-orientated, often sharing research, statistics, talks and referencing credible figures to back their stance.
Pharmacists are genuinely concerned about patient care and share helpful resources online to promote public well-being and mental health. This is also made evident by the large increase in mental health-related posts during global mental health awareness days.
To learn more about the digital behaviours of HCPs across social media platforms check out other resources including How nurses use social media and How HCPs use Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and LinkedIn or get in touch.