A recent study has investigated the effectiveness of a breast cancer support group on social media in patient education and well-being.
Although there are support groups available for breast cancer patients, many women still do not participate in such groups. A recent study has analyzed participation in an online twitter support community called the Breast Cancer Social Media Twitter support community (#BCSM) and its effects on patient education in addition to patient anxiety levels.
A survey was posted via the twitter group and on the #BCSM blog, for two weeks. Over 200 people responded to the survey. Participants reported an overall increase in knowledge of breast cancer, in particular, survivorship, metastatic breast cancer, cancer types and biology, clinical trials and research, treatment options, breast imaging, genetic testing, risk assessment, and radiotherapy following participation in the online community.
More than 30% of participants reported seeking a second opinion from a healthcare professional following participation in the breast cancer support group. Participation in the online community also led more than 70% of participants to plan outreach and advocacy efforts.
Group participants also reported a reduction in anxiety levels following participation in the breast cancer support group. Over 65% of participants who had initially reported high levels of anxiety subsequently reported low, or no anxiety following participation in the online support group.
Not only did participation in the breast cancer online community and support group lead to increased knowledge of breast cancer and related issues, but the results of the survey show that participation in this online community also resulted in greater awareness, support, and advocacy, in addition to reducing anxiety in those living with breast cancer.
Attai, DJ, Cowher, MS, Al-Hamadani, M, Schoger, JM, Staley, AC, Landerasper, JL. “Twitter Social Media is an Effective Tool for Breast Cancer Patient Education and Support: Patient-Reported Outcomes by Survey” J Med Internet Res 2015;17(7):e188) doi:10.2196/jmir.4721
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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD