Social media is widely used by multiple stakeholders to access and share health-related information and experiences. Lung cancer is the most common cancer globally, affecting the lives of >2 million patients. This observational study utilised a social listening approach to analyse social media trends and gain insights into stakeholder perceptions in lung cancer.
Data were collected retrospectively (June 2019–May 2020) from open-access blogs, forums, and social networking sites across 14 European countries. Conversations containing lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)-specific terms were extracted using social media aggregator tools. The information was filtered to a contextualised dataset by automated relevancy algorithms and manual review. Random sampling procedures generated the final dataset for analysis.
Of 1360 conversations analysed, 42% were generated by patients/caregivers and 14% by healthcare professionals (HCPs). Most patients were 51-70 years old (∼50%) and 91% (n=550) had late-stage cancer. Treatment was the most discussed topic of the patient journey, followed by causes and diagnosis. While overall treatment sentiment was neutral, chemotherapy had the highest share of negativity (12% positive, 28% negative; n=318). Immunotherapy and targeted therapy were perceived more positively due to perceptions of longer survival outcomes with comparatively fewer side effects (47% positive, 9% negative; n=276 and 47% positive, 2% negative; n=139, respectively). The most mentioned clinical endpoints were ‘prolonged survival’ and ‘overall survival’ (47% and 30%, respectively; n=539). HCPs mostly used technical terms whereas patients and caregivers used colloquial terms such as ‘getting rid of cancer’. Exhaustion of treatment options and intolerable side effects led to treatment discontinuation; relapse, metastasis, and inefficacy were key factors for switching between treatments.
Social listening is a powerful tool to explore stakeholder perceptions and their key unmet needs, typically not available in published literature or databases, and provides HCPs with insight into the distress and doubts of patients and caregivers.
Clinical trial identification
Medical editorial assistance was provided by Sara Henriques, of Chameleon Communications, London, UK, which was funded by Novartis, East Hanover, NJ, USA.
Legal entity responsible for the study
A.C.F. Rodrigues: Non-Financial Interests, Personal, Training: AstraZeneca; Non-Financial Interests, Personal, Advisory Board: MSD; Non-Financial Interests, Personal, Advisory Board: BMS; Non-Financial Interests, Personal, Advisory Board: AstraZeneca; Non-Financial Interests, Personal, Advisory Board: Boehringer Ingelheim; Non-Financial Interests, Personal, Advisory Board: Roche. J. Chauhan: Financial Interests, Personal, Full or part-time Employment: Novartis. A. Sagkriotis: Financial Interests, Personal, Full or part-time Employment: Novartis. S. Aasaithambi: Financial Interests, Personal, Full or part-time Employment: Novartis. All other authors have declared no conflicts of interest.