Frequencies of private mentions and sharing of mammography and breast cancer terms on facebook: A pilot study

Marco Huesch, Alison Chetlen, Joel Segel, Susann Schetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: The most popular social networking site in the United States is Facebook, an online forum where circles of friends create, share, and interact with each other's content in a nonpublic way. Objective: Our objectives were to understand (1) the most commonly used terms and phrases relating to breast cancer screening, (2) the most commonly shared website links that other women interacted with, and (3) the most commonly shared website links, by age groups. Methods: We used a novel proprietary tool from Facebook to analyze all of the more than 1.7 million unique interactions (comments on stories, reshares, and emoji reactions) and stories associated with breast cancer screening keywords that were generated by more than 1.1 million unique female Facebook users over the 1 month between November 15 and December 15, 2016. We report frequency distributions of the most popular shared Web content by age group and keywords. Results: On average, each of 59,000 unique stories during the month was reshared 1.5 times, commented on nearly 8 times, and reacted to more than 20 times by other users. Posted stories were most often authored by women aged 45-54 years. Users shared, reshared, commented on, and reacted to website links predominantly to e-commerce sites (12,200/1.7 million, 36% of all the most popular links), celebrity news (n=8800, 26%), and major advocacy organizations (n=4900, 15%; almost all accounted for by the American Cancer Society breast cancer site). Conclusions: On Facebook, women shared and reacted to links to commercial and informative websites regarding breast cancer and screening. This information could inform patient outreach regarding breast cancer screening, indirectly through better understanding of key issues, and directly through understanding avenues for paid messaging to women authoring and reacting to content in this space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere201
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics


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