Patients with cancer and social media: Harness benefits, avoid drawbacks

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Social media (SM) platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and online cancer support groups are an emerging source of social support. However, oncology care professionals may be unfamiliar with how patients use SM related to their cancer diagnosis. SM can be potentially beneficial by providing an avenue for patient engagement and empowerment, increasing psychosocial and informational support, strengthening patient-physician relationships, and relaying opportunities for clinical and research study participation. Conversely, it can spread misinformation, overwhelm with information overload, violate privacy, and expose users to financial exploitation. The purpose of this article is to describe five potential benefits and five potential drawbacks patients may experience while using SM and to encourage oncologists to become aware of these, to guide patients in using SM to their benefit. This review also provides specific care practice behaviors that oncologists can apply during care delivery to guide patients' SM use, to help avoid the potential drawbacks and harness the potential benefits.




Markham, M. J., Eaton, T., & Gentile, D. (2018, December 1). Patients with cancer and social media: Harness benefits, avoid drawbacks. Journal of Oncology Practice. American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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