Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 424–428 | Cite as

Beyond the Drama: the Beautiful Life in News Feeds on Cancer

  • Luisa Picanço
  • Priscila Biancovilli
  • Claudia Jurberg


Facebook is one of the main communication tools in the world nowadays. In Brazil, it is used for almost half of the population. Knowing what is conveyed about cancer by this social network can be an important step for the development of efficient health communication strategies. We evaluate Facebook user’s comments on pages about cancer; verify if there is a pattern of public awareness on the disease and compare it with results from other studies. Three pages about cancer on Facebook were selected among those with more followers in Brazil. For 6 months, from January to June 2014, all posts were selected and evaluated, and we created eight categories. On each page, the categories that generated most comments were elected for the second analysis. The behavior of empowered citizens by new communication tools is the target of this study. Similarities and differences between 12,926 comments coming from 1243 posts in three different Facebook pages on cancer were analyzed. Four new categories were identified: “religion,” “positive,” “negative,” and “information.” Despite the differences among the three pages selected for this study, we observed the predominance of positive speeches associated with religious terms. Following public perceptions on cancer is an important step for the development of efficient health communication strategies.


Cancer Social media Facebook Comments Religion 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Brazilian Cancer Foundation. Without that, this research would not have been feasible.


  1. 1.
    Estimativas da População Brasileira. Diário Oficial. 28 de agosto de 2015. In
  2. 2.
    O futuro digital da América Latina em Foco 2015. comScore. In
  3. 3.
    Facebook tem 89 milhões de usuários no Brasil. Meio e Mensagem. In. Acessed March 2016
  4. 4.
    Hall JA, Pennington N, Lueders A (2014) Impression management and formation on Facebook: a lens model approach. New Media Soc 16(6):958–982. doi: 10.1177/1461444813495166 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Caers R, Feyter TD, Couck Stough T, Vigna C, Bois CD (2013) Facebook: a literature review. News Media & Society 15(6):182–1002. doi: 10.1177/1461444813488061 Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gonzales AL, Hancock JT (2008) Identity shift in computer-mediated environments. Media Psychology 11:167–185. doi: 10.1080/15213260802023433 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tong ST, Van Der Heide B, Langwell L, Walther JB (2008) Too much of a good thing? The relationship between number of friends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook. J Comput-Mediat Commun 13:531–549. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2008.00409.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Utz S (2010) Show me your friends and I will tell you what type of a person you are: how one’s profile, number of friends, and type of friends influence impression formation on social network sites. J Comput-Mediat Commun 15:314–335. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2010.01522.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Goffman E (1959) The presentation of self in everyday life. Anchor, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kern R, Forman AE, Gil-Egui G (2013) R.I.P.: remain in perpetuity. Facebook memorial pages. Telemantics and Informatics 30:2–10. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2012.03.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rossetto KR, Lannutti PJ, Strauman EC (2014) Death on Facebook: examining the roles of social media communication for the bereaved. J Soc Pers Relat:1–21. doi: 10.1177/0265407514555272
  12. 12.
    INCA. Concepção dos Brasileiros sobre o Câncer. Instituto Nacional do Câncer. [S.l.]. 2007. In.
  13. 13.
    Machado GOC, Biancovilli P, Jurberg C (2015) Voices about a stigma: cancer in the opinion of three different segments in Brazilian society. J Cancer Educ:1–4. doi: 10.1007/s13187-015-0962-5
  14. 14.
    Chavez L, Hubbell FA, Mishra SI, Valdez RB (1997) The influence of fatalism on self-reported use of Papanicolaou smears. Am J Prev Med 13:418–424CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Straughan P, Seow A (1998) Fatalism reconceptualized: a concept to predict health screening behavior. J Gend Cult Health 3:85–100. doi: 10.1023/A:1023278230797 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bardin L (2011) Análise de conteúdo. São Paulo: Edições 70:229pGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Minayo C, Sanches O (1993) Quantitativo-Qualitativo: oposição ou complementaridade. Cadernos de Saúde Pública 9(3):239–362. doi: 10.1590/S0102-311X1993000300002 Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Soothill K, Morris SM, Harman JC, Thomas C, Francis B, McIllmurray MB (2002) Cancer and faith. Having faith — does it make a difference among patients and their informal careers? Scandinavian Journal of Caring Science 16(3):256–263. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-6712.2002.00097.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Niederdeppe J, Levy AG (2007) Fatalistic beliefs about cancer prevention and three prevention behaviors. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention 16:998–1003. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-06-0608 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Niederdeppe J, Fowler EF, Goldstein K, Pribble J (2010) Does local television news coverage cultivate fatalistic beliefs about cancer prevention? J Commun 60(2):230–253. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01474.x CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Verjovsky M, Jurberg C (2012) Spotlight on news: a critical review of cancer disclosure. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 4(8):150–158 In. Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Moser RP, Arndt J, Han PK, Waters EA, Amsellem M, Hesse BW (2013) Perceptions of cancer as a death sentence: prevalence and consequences. J Health Psychol (0):1–7. doi: 10.1177/1359105313494924
  23. 23.
    Hamilton JB, Worthy VC, Moore AD, Best NC, Stewart JM, Song MK (2015) Messages of hope: helping family members to overcome fears and fatalistic attitudes toward cancer. Journal of Cancer Education, August. doi: 10.1007/s13187-015-0895-z Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Brandtzaeg PB (2015) Facebook is no “great equalizer”: a big data approach to gender differences in civic engagement across countries. Social Science Computer Review Published first online October doi. doi: 10.1177/0894439315605806 Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ross K, Fountaine S, Comrie M (2015) Facing up to Facebook: politicians, publics and the social media(ted) turn in New Zealand. Media, Culture & Society 37(2):251–269. doi: 10.1177/0163443714557983 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Carrion IV, Nedjat-Haiem F, Macip-Billbe M, Black R (2016) “I told myself to stay positive” perceptions of coping among Latinos with a cancer diagnosis living in the United States. Am J Hosp Palliat Med:1–8. doi: 10.1177/1049909115625955
  27. 27.
    Sedrak MS, Cohen RB, Merchant RM, Schapira MM (2016) Cancer communication in the social media age. Jama Oncology. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.5475 PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dissemination of Biomedical Science at Institute of Medical Biochemistry Leopoldo de MeisUniversidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Dissemination of Biomedical Science at Institute of Medical Biochemistry Leopoldo de MeisUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Imunologia Tumoral, Instituto de Bioquímica Médica Leopoldo de MeisUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

Personalised recommendations