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BCNA News 17 Jun 2019

ASCO highlights potential benefits from social media

Oncologists have been challenged to consider the potential benefits offered by social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The 31 May American Society of Clinical Oncology education session highlighted the eagerness of patients for participatory discussions and the increase of knowledge improvement on social media.

Research shows 52 per cent of patients with cancer went online to research questions to discuss with their doctor, almost 40 per cent used the internet to verify information they received from their doctor and more than 23 per cent searched for a clinical trial.

Dr Miriam Knoll of Hackensack University Medical Centre told the session that physicians and researchers were beginning to look online to engage with patients.

She said the people participating in chat sessions demonstrated high rates of knowledge improvement, including information on surgery, reconstruction, radiation, chemotherapy and clinical trials.

‘The flow of information on social media and the relationships that form between health care stakeholders is multidirectional between patients, patient activists, and physicians,’ she said, ‘and that it can also be an active and formalized process.’

Social media is particularly valuable for recruiting patients for clinical trials in the US. Even paid Facebook ads are cost effective, she said, with one campaign costing less than $20 per patient.

Patient advocates are also using social media to effect change. For instance, one cancer survivor used social media to push for state legislation that requires women be informed if they have dense breasts.

‘I encourage you to interact with patients and patient advocates on social media,’ Dr Knoll said. ‘Listen to what they’re saying. They’re the true health care stakeholder, and they have an investment in changing cancer care.’

The full report of the session can be found here: