BACKGROUND: Professional development is essential in the health disciplines. Knowing the cost and value of educational approaches informs decisions and choices about learning and teaching practices.
OBJECTIVE: The primary aim of this study was to conduct a cost analysis of participation in continuing professional development via social media compared with live conference attendance.
METHODS: Clinicians interested in musculoskeletal care were invited to participate in the study activities. Quantitative data were obtained from an anonymous electronic questionnaire.
RESULTS: Of the 272 individuals invited to contribute data to this study, 150 clinicians predominantly from Australia, United States, United Kingdom, India, and Malaysia completed the outcome measures. Half of the respondents (78/150, 52.0%) believed that they would learn more with the live conference format. The median perceived participation costs for the live conference format was Aus $1596 (interquartile range, IQR 172.50-2852.00). The perceived cost of participation for equivalent content delivered via social media was Aus $15 (IQR 0.00-58.50). The majority of the clinicians (114/146, 78.1%, missing data n=4) indicated that they would pay for a subscription-based service, delivered by social media, to the median value of Aus $59.50.
CONCLUSIONS: Social media platforms are evolving into an acceptable and financially sustainable medium for the continued professional development of health professionals. When factoring in the reduced costs of participation and the reduced loss of employable hours from the perspective of the health service, professional development via social media has unique strengths that challenge the traditional live conference delivery format.