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Will You Be My 'Friend'? Digital Encounters and Ethics for Healthcare Professionals and Patients

Christina Bach, MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C and Helen Chapple, PhD, RN, MA, MSN, CT
Recorded on June 24, 2015

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About the Webinar

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have changed how we interact with “friends.” As healthcare professionals, we may be faced with “friend” requests, Twitter followers or “likes” that force us into new, uncharted ethical spaces.

This webinar will explore the ethical implications of the “friend” request, including confidentiality and privacy (yours and your patients), dual relationships, boundaries, identity questions and conflict of interests. We will explore how social media and digital platforms impact our forming and maintaining of relationships, authenticity and our abilities to be alone with ourselves.

Finally, we will focus on time and death in social media and delve into what happens in social media space after someone dies: from permanency, to memorial pages, to feeling haunted by the continued presence of the deceased in our Facebook feeds or our contact lists.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the participant will be able to:
  • Explain how ethical issues such as confidentiality/privacy, dual relationships, boundaries and conflict of interests interplay with social media platforms and the health care delivery system
  • Discuss and practice ethically based social media policies and procedures with their patients and co-workers while preserving the sanctity of the working (helping) relationship
  • Comprehend the impact of permanency in the digital world and how social media encourages memorials while also representing an (perhaps) unwelcome or intrusive presence in the lives of the living

About the Presenters

Christina Bach, MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, is the Educational Content Specialist and Psychosocial Content Editor with OncoLink (, the web’s first cancer education resource. At OncoLink, Christina works with an interprofessional team to provide cutting edge and timely cancer education information to patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.Christina focuses her writing on coping and supportive care needs for cancer patients and survivors. She has expertise in the financial impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment, insurance and disability and resource allocation. Previously she worked at Penn Medicine for 15 years and in oncology social work for 12 years in both inpatient and outpatient settings as well as at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine where she served as a bereavement counselor to clients of the veterinary hospital. Christina is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and The Perelman School of Medicine/University of Pennsylvania Bioethics program. Christina also completed the Smith School of Social Work End of Life Care certificate program.  Christina is a self proclaimed “techie,” and enjoys bringing technology to her patients, through the use of social networking and Facetime/Sykpe interactions. Christina was instrumental in foundational research into the use of “facetime” telemedicine interactions/interventions with home bound hospice patients at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Presbyterian (pilot presented at Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress, 2015). She also volunteers regularly with her certified therapy dog, Finn, at Penn Medicine’s radiation oncology department, local libraries, and at Camp Kesem every summer. Christina research interests include patient education and social media, bioethical mediation, communication and patient education needs, patient centered care and interprofessional collaboration.

Helen Chapple, PhD, RN, MA, MSN, CT, is the Nurse Ethicist at the Center for Health Policy and Ethics at Creighton University. Her PhD is in Medical Anthropology from the University of Virginia and her major research focus is how dying occurs in the American hospital. Her dissertation investigated dying in two hospitals, a Catholic community hospital and an academic medical center. She became a nurse after being a hospice volunteer, and her bedside nursing practice spans hospice, oncology, research nursing and critical care. Her current research project explores change implementation in the ICU at Creighton University Medical Center.

Before arriving in Omaha, Dr. Chapple served on the UVa. Health System’s Ethics Committee for 10 years. She served as co-founder and chair of the hospital’s Bereavement Services Committee. She is the author of No Place for Dying: Hospitals and the Ideology of Rescue (2010, Left Coast Press). She has been an active member of the ADEC since 1989, serving as its President in 2007-2008.

Continuing Education Credits

Level - Intermediate - Ethics 
Participants will earn 2 CE credits upon successful completion of a post-webinar evaluation.