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Research Letter
March 2016

Disease-Specific Hashtags for Online Communication About Cancer Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Radiation Medicine, Lowell General Hospital, Lowell, Massachusetts
  • 2Symplur LLC, Los Angeles, California
  • 3Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 4Aurora Research Institute, Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 5Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles
  • 6American Society of Clinical Oncology, Alexandria, Virginia
  • 7Gillette Center for Gynecologic Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(3):392-394. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.3960

Increasingly, patients, caregivers, and health care professionals (HCPs) go online to learn about and discuss cancer care.1 However, finding other people or organizations with similar interests can be difficult without some structure.

Hashtags are user-generated tags that can organize and aggregate content on social networks. In July 2011, 2 patient advocates started a breast cancer chat on Twitter using the tag #bcsm (breast cancer social media); one of us (D.J.A.) joined as a comoderator. This same model but with hashtag #btsm was used to discuss brain tumors in January 2012. Both tags are now regularly used on Twitter by patients, caregivers, and HCPs.