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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU Study Finds Angelina Jolie’s Mastectomy Caused Spike in Online Information-Seeking

According to a new study co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher, actress Ms. Angelina Jolie’s 2013 announcement that she had undergone a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy caused a dramatic increase in online information-seeking.

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The study, published in the journal Genetics in Medicine, found huge spikes in Internet traffic on selected National Cancer Institute (NCI) sites in the immediate aftermath of Ms. Jolie’s May 14 disclosure in The New York Times. Among breast cancer resources available to the public, the NCI’s Preventive Mastectomy fact sheet saw the largest increase, with 69,000 page views on May 14, a 795-fold increase compared to the number one week earlier (87). A genetic testing fact sheet had a 31-fold increase in views, while a breast reconstruction resource had an 11-fold increase.

Dr. Catharine Wang, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH and a study co-author, said the study indicates that celebrity disclosures such as Ms. Jolie’s are key opportunities for genetics experts to communicate accurate and comprehensive information.

“Genetics professionals can capitalize on these disclosures to raise awareness, clarify misconceptions, and ensure easy access to accurate information,” Dr. Wang said.

To read more about the study, go to: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2014/10/29/angelina-jolies-mastectomy-disclosure-caused-spike-in-online-information-seeking/