Lung Cancer Messages on Twitter: Content Analysis and Evaluation

J Am Coll Radiol. 2018 Jan;15(1 Pt B):210-217. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2017.09.043. Epub 2017 Nov 15.


Purpose: The aim of this project was to describe and evaluate the levels of lung cancer communication across the cancer prevention and control continuum for content posted to Twitter during a 10-day period (September 30 to October 9) in 2016.

Methods: Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to identify relationships between tweet characteristics in lung cancer communication on Twitter and user-level data. Overall, 3,000 tweets published between September 30 and October 9 were assessed by a team of three coders. Lung cancer-specific tweets by user type (individuals, media, and organizations) were examined to identify content and structural message features. The study also assessed differences by user type in the use of hashtags, directed messages, health topic focus, and lung cancer-specific focus across the cancer control continuum.

Results: Across the universe of lung cancer tweets, the majority of tweets focused on treatment and the use of pharmaceutical and research interventions, followed by awareness and prevention and risk topics. Among all lung cancer tweets, messages were most consistently tweeted by individual users, and personal behavioral mobilizing cues to action were rare.

Conclusions: Lung cancer advocates, as well as patient and medical advocacy organizations, with an interest in expanding the reach and effectiveness of social media efforts should monitor the topical nature of public tweets across the cancer continuum and consider integrating cues to action as a strategy to increase engagement and behavioral activation pertaining to lung cancer reduction efforts.

Keywords: Social media; Twitter messaging; content analysis; lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*