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Most Lung Cancer-Specific Tweets Relate to Support, Prevention

<20 percent of tweets about clinical trials; only one tweet linked to a patient recruitment website

FRIDAY, March 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Most lung cancer-specific tweets relate to support or prevention, with fewer tweets about clinical trials, according to a research letter published online March 3 in JAMA Oncology.

Mina S. Sedrak, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a content analysis on 26,059 tweets about lung cancer. Nvivo qualitative data analysis software was used to capture and prepare tweets. A total of 15,346 unique tweets were identified, and a random 10 percent sample was analyzed (final sample, 1,516 tweets).

The researchers found that 83.1 percent of the tweets in the sample contained lung cancer-specific content, while 16.9 percent were classified as miscellaneous. The lung cancer-specific tweets mainly focused on support and prevention (28.4 and 28.3 percent, respectively). Within the sample, 17.5 percent of tweets related to clinical trials, mainly authored by individuals. Most (82.8 percent) of the clinical trial tweets addressed therapeutic trials, while 12.7 and 4.5 percent related to nontherapeutic trials and basic research, respectively. More than three-quarters (78.6 percent) of the therapeutic clinical trial tweets concerned immunotherapy and 86.3 percent contained links to news articles. Only one tweet directed users to a patient recruitment website.

“Social media is a rich and promising avenue for exploring how patients conceptualize and communicate about their specific health issues, but its potential to promote cancer clinical trial accrual remains unknown,” the authors write.

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