Cancer patients are online gathering information. Some active communities - #bcsm Breast Cancer Social Media) , #btsm 9 Brain Tumor Social Media) have been in existence since 2011 / 2012.
The #gyncsm was founded in 2013. In July of 2013 Matthew Katz and Patricia Anderson developed and shared online a disease-specific ontology (structured tags without pre-existing use). A finalized version was posted online in November of 2013 and included many of the hashtags talked about in this research.
Using the application program interface, Symplur Signals, the researchers analyzed data from 25 hashtags. They were able to classify the 100 most active users by user type, analyzed the number of tweets and the activity over the time period ( Second Quarter 2013 -Third Quarter 2014.
During that time period researched 77,554 users tweeted with the disease-specific hashtags.
Two tags, #BCSM and BTSM were the most active and were also used for the longest period of time.
The most active new tags were #aycasm, #gyncsm, #lcsm, #mmsm and #pancsm.
The most active top users were patients.
Overall users were 11% patients, 20% doctors, 3% non-doctor health care professionals, 32% individual, 30% health organization, 1% other and 3% spam.
|Right side of the Disease-specific Hashtag poster|
The conclusion of the study was that hashtags could organize the online discussion of diseases and that hashtags can be used by a variety of stakeholders. Further study as to whether the Cancer Tag Otology improves access to accurate information or impact clinical patient outcomes needs to be done.
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