Social media communication around lung cancer is focused primarily on cancer treatment and use of pharmaceutical and research interventions, followed closely by awareness, prevention, and risk topics, according to an analysis of Twitter conversation over a 10-day period.
Although awareness and risk prevention tweets were likely to contain cues toward action, “messages focused on treatment, end of life ... were significantly less likely to integrate cues for personal activity,” the investigators wrote. The report was published in.
The investigators collected 1.3 million unique Twitter messages between Sept. 30 and Oct. 9, 2016, that contained at least one of six keywords commonly used to describe cancer: cancer, chemo, tumor, malignant, biopsy, and metastasis. They then drew a random, proportional stratified sample of 3,000 messages (12.5%) for manual coding from the 23,926 messages posted that included keywords related to lung cancer. Tweets were examined by user type (individuals, media, and organizations) to identify content and structural message features.
Message content was most frequently related to treatment (32.1%), followed by awareness (22.9%), end of life (15.5%), prevention and risk information (13.3%), active cancer-unknown phase (7.6%), diagnosis (6.1%), early detection (2.7%), and survivorship (1%), Dr. Sutton and her colleagues reported.
“The large volume of messages containing content about pharmaceuticals suggests that Twitter is also a forum for sharing information and discussing emerging treatments. Importantly, treatment messages were shared primarily by individuals, suggesting that this online user community jointly includes members of the public as well as medical practitioners and companies who have an awareness of emerging treatment approaches, suggesting an opportunity for online engagement between these various groups (e.g., Lung Cancer Social Media #LCSM community and related chats),” the investigators wrote.
The National Science Foundation supported parts of this research. None of the authors reported any conflicts of interest.
SOURCE: Sutton J. et al., J Am Coll Radiol. 2018 Jan.