Although many psychologists and graduate students are wary of the ethical concerns raised by Googling patients to glean more information about them, a study presented at APA’s Annual Convention found that 22 percent of graduate students have done so.

The study also found that 41 percent of students reported that they had Googled their supervisors, and 3 percent of students responded that supervisors had told them they’d Googled the student.

The research also concluded that only 23 percent of the study participants had discussed the ethics of online searches, such as potential violation of patient privacy, at their training sites.

“We are in this area that’s new, that’s growing, the use of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn,” said one of the study authors, Ashwini Lal of Argosy University, Chicago. “At the same time, we need to be more on top of these things. There should be some discussion of these issues in training sites and graduate courses. At the very least, these issues should be addressed in an orientation course in graduate programs.”

Lal conducted the study with Penelope A. Asay, PhD, of the Argosy University, Chicago. The 198 study participants were clinical psychology graduate students, 83 percent of whom were women, and 81 percent of whom were Caucasian.

—S. Martin