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  • Gabriel Signorelli

How Physical Activity for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors are being communicated on Facebook Pa


Social networks are an important communication tool in the contemporary world. Facebook presently has a daily use of 727 million people worldwide. There has been a significant upward trend in its adoption by older adults in recent years. This presents an opportunity to consider the potential for health intervention in the social media sphere. In fact, Facebook was already used as part of interventions to encourage people to engage in physical activity routines.

Knowing that adherence to physical activity might be the most important behavior associated with lower mortality and higher quality of life in cancer survivors, one of the barriers to exercise is the lack of information about what patients need to do to exercise better. Social Media, and especially Facebook can help on this issue.

Are cancer associations and institutions communicating the physical activity theme in the best way, with quality and frequency? That was the question I tried to answer in the paper presented at the IEEE CBMS last month in Thessaloniki, Greece.

With the title “Quality of information about Physical Activity in Breast Cancer Facebook Pages: A Preliminary Content Review”. We focused on posting frequency and quality of exercise and physical activity content in Facebook. We sought to explore the frequency of exercise and physical activity topics posted on specialized Breast Cancer Facebook Pages and evaluate the quality of this information.

"...just 12 unprecedented physical activity posts in one year."

We found 98 pages in English about Breast Cancer, where more than half have less then 10.000 likes. Only 4 pages had more than 1 million followers, and we investigated them as they sought to have high impact on the population. Of the 4 Facebook pages, one page had not been frequently updated since 2015, and the three other pages had exactly the same 15 posts about physical activity and exercise. Three posts were only duplicated from previous dates, what turns up a total of just 12 unprecedented physical activity posts in one year. Only two posts were classified with potentially important information, having references to scientific studies and renowned researchers. The exercise and physical activity posts were always links to websites, blog and videos. There were no posts about exercise designed specifically for Facebook.

There are very few posts about exercise and physical activity for breast cancer, and these are of low quality. This shows that not enough importance has been given to this topic.

Researchers and Breast Cancer Exercise Specialists need to further disseminate their research work in a more attractive way to the general public and patients. Institutions that have formal profiles on social networks should also be alerted to the importance of the topic.

#cancer #socialmedia #physicalactivity #Facebook #breastcancer #CBMS

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© 2016 CATCH. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement 
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