Undergraduate Medical Students Using Facebook as a Peer-Mentoring Platform: A Mixed-Methods Study.

Pinilla, Severin; Nicolai, Leo; Gradel, Maximilian; Pander, Tanja; Fischer, Martin R; von der Borch, Philip; Dimitriadis, Konstantinos (2015). Undergraduate Medical Students Using Facebook as a Peer-Mentoring Platform: A Mixed-Methods Study. JMIR medical education, 1(2), e12. JMIR Publications 10.2196/mededu.5063

document.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (239kB) | Preview

BACKGROUND Peer mentoring is a powerful pedagogical approach for supporting undergraduate medical students in their learning environment. However, it remains unclear what exactly peer mentoring is and whether and how undergraduate medical students use social media for peer-mentoring activities. OBJECTIVE We aimed at describing and exploring the Facebook use of undergraduate medical students during their first 2 years at a German medical school. The data should help medical educators to effectively integrate social media in formal mentoring programs for medical students. METHODS We developed a coding scheme for peer mentoring and conducted a mixed-methods study in order to explore Facebook groups of undergraduate medical students from a peer-mentoring perspective. RESULTS All major peer-mentoring categories were identified in Facebook groups of medical students. The relevance of these Facebook groups was confirmed through triangulation with focus groups and descriptive statistics. Medical students made extensive use of Facebook and wrote a total of 11,853 posts and comments in the respective Facebook groups (n=2362 total group members). Posting peaks were identified at the beginning of semesters and before exam periods, reflecting the formal curriculum milestones. CONCLUSIONS Peer mentoring is present in Facebook groups formed by undergraduate medical students who extensively use these groups to seek advice from peers on study-related issues and, in particular, exam preparation. These groups also seem to be effective in supporting responsive and large-scale peer-mentoring structures; formal mentoring programs might benefit from integrating social media into their activity portfolio.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute for Medical Education > Assessment and Evaluation Unit (AAE)

UniBE Contributor:

Pinilla, Severin


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




JMIR Publications




Severin Philipp Jose Pinilla Isabela

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2019 14:17

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 17:05

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Facebook medical education peer mentoring social media





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback