Social media is increasingly used by patients for cancer information and psychosocial support. Certain information/features may be more desired in a new hospital-based social media cancer resource; these may vary between adolescent-young adult (AYA; age <40) and non-AYA (age 40+).
Using age specific sampling, cancer patients across all disease sites completed a cross-sectional survey of demographics, health status, and social media/online resource use for cancer education. Clinical information was abstracted.
Of 127 AYA cancer patients and 193 non-AYA (older adult) patients, 100% (AYA) and 92% (non-AYA) stated they use the internet (p < 0.001); 95% AYA and 72% non-AYA used social media (p < 0.001). When asked about attitudes towards social media, 64% AYA and 50% non-AYA believed they could judge social media information quality; 18% AYA and 18% non-AYA recommended use of current social media resources. When asked what types of features they would want in an online resource for their cancer care, both AYA and non-AYA most frequently reported wanting to view their own personal health records (82% AYA/63% non-AYA), followed by an online library of cancer resources (73% AYA/56% non-AYA), ability to communicate with healthcare professionals (73% AYA/55% non-AYA), and appointment reminders (72% AYA/58% non-AYA). The most frequently desired information for both groups were treatment options (61% AYA/56% non-AYA), causes/risk factors/symptoms (65% AYA/56% non-AYA), and prognosis/outcomes (52% AYA/46% non-AYA). The largest difference in information preference between the two age groups were in wellness programs (62% AYA/39% non-AYA) and work return (42% AYA/20% non-AYA) (p < 0.001).
There is significant agreement between AYA and non-AYA patients in the most desired information and features they want in a social media resource, though AYA patients wanted a greater number of features. Patients' desired information suggested a patient preference for more autonomy and insight into their disease, regardless of age. There is a lack of satisfaction with current social media resources. A single set of informational tools can therefore be developed for all adults.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network.
Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.