FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle Xiarhos Curran
Boston, MA – Breast cancer patients who use social media for education and support experience measurable benefits that could result in a higher quality continuum of care. This is according to a recently published report in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the leading peer-reviewed journal for health and healthcare on the Internet.
The report, published on July 30, 2015, is a study of survey results from participants in the Breast Cancer Social Media Twitter support community (#BCSM). Started in 2011 by three-time cancer survivor, Alicia C. Staley, and Jody M. Schoger, also a cancer survivor, #BCSM began as a weekly twitter conversation, but has grown into a worldwide community of over 14,000 patients, caregivers, advocates and researchers dedicated to providing each other with support and information.
“We found that when breast cancer patients participate in our Twitter support community, their anxiety decreases and their perceived knowledge about various facets of their cancer increases,” said Staley, a co-author of the report and chief patient officer of Akari Health, a Boston-based healthcare consulting group.
Staley worked on the study with Schoger; Dr. Deanna Attai, M.D., President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and #BCSM co-moderator; Michael S. Cowher, M.D.; Mohammed Al-Hamadani, MBChB, MPH and Jeffrey Landercasper, M.D.
Over 200 respondents, including breast cancer patients, family members, advocates and medical professionals, completed the #BCSM survey, which measured various patient characteristics and patient outcome domains due to #BCSM participation. The study revealed that more than 63 percent of respondents “strongly agreed” that #BCSM “provided a safe and welcoming forum for support and education.” More than 80 percent reported an increase in overall knowledge. Over 31 percent revealed they would seek a second opinion or bring additional information they had learned to their doctor’s attention. And 67 percent of patients initially reporting high or extreme anxiety reported low or no anxiety following #BCSM participation.
Results of the study represent an important first step toward development of more online patient education and support communities.
“While Twitter and other social media outlets cannot replace more traditional methods of support and education for breast cancer patients, this study shows that they can compliment them,” said Staley. “We really feel there is a great potential in social media to increase patient-physician engagement. And with both patients and doctors taking part, it can provide a convenient, credible forum for people to get learn and connect.”
To read the full study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, visit www.jmir.org. To learn more about #BCSM Monday night tweet chats, and for more information about the #BCSM community, visit www.bcsmcommunity.org.