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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: Discovering How People with Breast Cancer Use Facebook for Support

Many people turn to social networks, such as Facebook, to connect with friends and family during times of crisis. A study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently analyzed the activity of breast cancer survivors on Facebook during their treatment and found while they posted more, they made relatively few requests for help.

The study was led by research scientist Dr. Jude Mikal and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

To learn more about the ways breast cancer patients use Facebook for support, the researchers recruited 30 survivors through Facebook. The survivors gave Dr. Mikal their consent to download more than 100,000 lines of raw information from their accounts. The team specifically analyzed the posting activity of patients three months before and after receiving their diagnosis, as well as three months before and after completing their treatment. 

The study found:

“This is the first step in exploring how breast cancer patients used Facebook,” said Dr. Mikal. “Next, we’ll take a closer look at the surge in patient posts we observed following a cancer diagnosis and learn more about how requests for support were made and how others responded.”

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