Doctors, patients use Twitter to talk about cancer in three-night event

the ONA take:

The television airing of the Ken Burns cancer documentary "The Emperor of All Maladies" gave rise to three nights of heightened social media activity.

Twitter users "tweeted" during the broadcast, using the hashtag #cancerfilm and shared many personal perspectives and experiences with cancer.

Audun Utengen, who runs a popular website (www.symplur.com) that provides tracking info on healthcare related hashtags, labeled the three-night social media event "unprecedented."

The event began via an invitation to the public to tweet during the film by the US National Cancer Institute and partner research organizations. The documentary, which was based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, ran for six hours and reviewed the history of cancer care, past to present.

Tweeters included an estimated 746 doctors, research organizations and hospitals, pharmaceutical companies such as Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and over 500 individuals that described themselves as patients. An additional 12,000 people comprised of advocates and others also joined the online conversation.

Many people tweeting reflected on their own experiences with cancer, and some investigators and doctors noted their research.

Although some critics pointed out a marked lack of prevention talk or possible PR-related posting by companies during the three-night conversation, many feel the event could impact the off-line world of patient care and was important as a new step in cancer-related interaction.

Doctors, patients use Twitter to talk about cancer in three-night event
Twitter users "tweeted" during the broadcast, using the hashtag #cancerfilm and shared many personal perspectives and experiences with cancer.
For three nights this Spring, an unusual set of fireworks exploded across the social media landscape with implications for public discussions of health, particularly for health care professionals whose work includes crafting messages for patients.
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