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RETRACTED: Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons

Published:December 24, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvs.2019.10.069
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      This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (https://www.elsevier.com/about/our-business/policies/article-withdrawal).
      This article has been retracted at the request of the authors, the Editor-in-Chief and the Senior Editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery.
      This article has been retracted in accordance with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Retraction Guidelines because the authors did not have permission to use the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery (APDVS) directory of program directors and trainees to conduct research. In addition, the methodology, analysis and conclusions of this article were based on published but not validated criteria, judging a series of behaviors including attire, alcohol consumption, controversial political and religious comments like abortion or gun control, in which significant conscious and unconscious biases were pervasive. The methodology was in part predicated on highly subjective assessments of professionalism based on antiquated norms and a predominantly male authorship supervised the assessments made by junior, male students and trainees. The authors did not identify biases in the methodology, i.e., judging public social media posts of women wearing bikinis on off-hours as “potentially unprofessional”. The goal of professionalism in medicine is to help ensure trust among patients, colleagues and hospital staff. However, professionalism has historically been defined by and for white, heterosexual men and does not always speak to the diversity of our workforce or our patients.
      The Editors deeply regret the failures in the Journal’s peer review process which allowed this paper to be published. The Editors and the review process failed to identify errors in the design of the study, to detect unauthorized use of the data, and to recognize the conscious and unconscious biases plaguing the methodology. For this, we express our most sincere apology.
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      Linked Article

      • Retraction notice
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 4
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          Retraction notice to “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons”. [J Vasc Surg 72 (2020) 667-671]
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      • The power of social media: A call for change in professional perspective
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          It is difficult for me to put into words the feeling of the gut punch when I saw the post and then read the recent Journal of Vascular Surgery publication “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons.”1 Then reading the invited commentary made me feel even worse.
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      • A comment on recently published social media research
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          I write with concern regarding the article by Hardouin et al.1 In a time of attacks on the medical profession, I see here a project that undermines the trust students and trainees have for academic mentors. Red flags scream to the authors, institutional review board, and Journal Editorial Staff.
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      • The arbitrary definition of unprofessional social media is larger than #medbikini
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          We read with dismay the Journal of Vascular Surgery publication titled “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons” by Farber et al.1 We are dismayed that our leading journal in vascular surgery chose to publish this “research.” Not only is the topic tone deaf, but the “methodology” cited in this project centers around arbitrary definitions of “clearly and potentially unprofessional behaviors.” These definitions were created by Langenfeld et al in their 2014 J Surg Educ manuscript2 in which they noted, “A validated instrument for this process does not exist.” This work was then replicated in 2017 by Koo et al in BJU Int.
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      • The use of pseudoscience to legitimize criticism of young surgeons and reinforce old ways
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          The article “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons” is problematic, and the reasons why are multifold.1 It is important to appreciate fully that the concerns with this paper are not just about poor methodology, the public backlash, or offense to women. While the poor scientific method and logic, questionable ethics, and public outcry are embarrassing to the journal and our field, it is the attempt to legitimize criticism of young surgeons with “science” that I find most concerning —a criticism that seems to equate unethical or illegal activity with having an authentic public presence on social media.
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      • The pursuit of unprofessional social media behavior through unprofessional methods
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          Hardouin et al1 conducted a study to determine the extent of unprofessional social media content among recent vascular surgery fellows and residents. Three screeners, self-identified as men under the age of 40, were to determine whether content found on three major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) was deemed clearly unprofessional or potentially unprofessional on public accounts of vascular surgery trainees and/or recent graduates.1 Examples of “potentially unprofessional content” cited by the screeners included “provocative Halloween costumes,” “provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear,” “surgeons holding alcohol,” and “specific stances on abortion and gun control.” Despite the authors' recognition of a study limitation being that definitions of clear and potential unprofessional posts may be subjective, the study methodology is ultimately flawed, and as a result, their findings need to be evaluated critically for their misogynistic and misguided undertones perpetuated by the three screeners, all of whom identify as men.
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      • Poorly conducted science is unprofessional
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          We write to express our dismay at the publication of “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons” by Hardouin et al.1 While we applaud the authors' interest in the social media implications for vascular surgeons, we are alarmed that such poorly designed research was published. The authors have fallen into the same methodologic traps as previous work among surgeons,2,3 and the invited commentary4 took the results of this work for granted, accepting them without critique.
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      • Changing tides: A vascular surgery trainee perspective on the #MedBikini Campaign and a call for action
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          Within a matter of 48 hours, the promotion of the article entitled “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons,” aptly demonstrated the power of social media and the dangers of unconscious bias as it spread across Twitter with the #MedBikini tag. In response, vascular surgeons from around the world have come together in a call to action to address the article and highlight the misogynistic, racist, and oppressive issues facing young surgeons today. We, as female vascular surgery trainees, would like to make our own call to action.
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      • Professionalism through a lens of inclusion and diversity
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          The article entitled “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons” in the Journal of Vascular Surgery has been poorly received in social media, especially among female physicians and physicians who are minorities because it highlights a paternalistic and misogynistic exclusion in the field of medicine.
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      • Social media and professionalism among surgeons: Who decides what’s right and what’s wrong?
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          The use of social media has continued to grow in medicine and surgery and the scholarly evaluation of its role, as well as potential drawbacks, is prudent. We read with interest a recently published article on social media of vascular surgeons.1 As fellow surgeons, social media users, and researchers, we have some concerns regarding the methodology and conduct of the study, the ethics of the study, and, finally, its conclusions.
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      • Studies looking into “professionalism” would benefit from self-reflection and integrity of the research process
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          We are writing to address the article “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons,” which was presented at the Annual Symposium of the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery in March 2019. This article was then published in the August 2020 issue of this journal.
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      • Abortion is a medical topic appropriate for professional discussion
        Journal of Vascular SurgeryVol. 72Issue 5
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          In the article, “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons,” Hardouin et al1 classified “comments centered around specific stances on abortion” as “potentially unprofessional” and “socially controversial.” The authors failed to cite any formal guidelines or evidence to support this classification. We find this classification of abortion to be problematic for the following reasons:
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