Social Support within Online Communities: Internet Reach and Content Analysis of a Cancer Anti-stigma Facebook Page in Mexico
Social networking sites (SNS) can serve as modern platforms to address diseasespecific stigma, especially in Mexico where cancer stigma impedes healthcare access. This study examines the Facebook Page administered by the Livestrong Foundation in Mexico addressing cancer stigma, in order to elucidate key features of social media regarding the experience of cancer and cancer stigma in Mexico. The study is unique for its focus on a public online platform involving both support and outreach, as existing studies examine more exclusive forums for social support alone. We employ a mixed-methods approach involving qualitative analysis of posts and quantitative analysis of usage trends, focusing on January 1 to June 30, 2013 to encompass Livestrong Day. The 28 posts during this time period reached a total of 28,049 viewing users and 230 interacting users. As hypothesized, most support arose from strangers, consisting of primarily emotional and informational support, with most emotional support from women compared to men. The theme of empowerment appeared frequently within cancer narratives. Emotional support and narratives garnered the most user responses. Anti-stigma campaigns might further leverage users’ primary interest in emotional support by featuring narratives of recovery and empowerment to reach a broader and more interactive audience.
Xinlin Chen1* Lawrence Yang2* Josephina Toso-Salman Yvonne Chang, Rebekkah Schear and Devon McGoldrick