Charities’ use of Twitter : exploring social support for women living with and beyond breast cancer

Ure, CM ORCID:, Galpin, AJ ORCID:, Cooper-Ryan, AM ORCID: and Condie, JM ORCID: 2019, 'Charities’ use of Twitter : exploring social support for women living with and beyond breast cancer' , Information, Communication & Society, 22 (8) , pp. 1-18.

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Twitter is one social media platform that enables those experiencing breast cancer to access support from others. This study explores how cancer charities provide support to women living with and beyond breast cancer (LWBBC) through their Twitter feeds. Seven hundred and seventy-two tweets from seven purposively sampled cancer charities were used to explore Twitter posts made relating to social support. Two questions were posed: (1) what type of support is positioned by cancer charities on Twitter for women LWBBC and (2) what themes emerge from tweet content pertaining to support for women LWBBC? Using a peer-reviewed typology of ‘social support’ [Rui, J., Chen, Y., & Damiano, A. (2013). Health organizations providing and seeking social support: A twitter-based content analysis. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking, 16(9), 669–673. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0350], a deductive content analysis was utilised to identify informational, instrumental or emotional social support tweets (n = 199). Over half (56%) of tweets offered informational support; 27% provided or sought instrumental support and 18% related to emotional support. Interestingly, 74.3% (n = 573) of tweets were not related to providing or seeking social support. An inductive qualitative thematic analysis of the 199 tweets identified the focus (i.e., themes) of support. Three themes were identified: (1) raising awareness, (2) focusing on the future and (3) sharing stories. Cancer charities predominantly use Twitter to signpost women to informational resources and to seek instrumental support to meet charitable objectives. As the number of women LWBBC continues to increase, this study provides valuable insight into how charities represent themselves on Twitter in relation to the social support needs of women LWBBC.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Information, Communication & Society
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1369-118X
Related URLs:
Depositing User: CM Ure
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2017 08:37
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 22:43

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