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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

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Utilization of Facebook for support and education by patients with skin cancer


The expanding role of social media in medical care has resulted in dermatology patients seeking support online regarding personal experience with diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Owing to increased privacy settings in closed Facebook groups, the current study analyzed themes of keratinocyte carcinoma patients’ posts within a relatively private social media network. Although the majority of messages included sharing personal experience and provided psychosocial support (50%), there were a significant number of posts offering medical advice (35%), with the majority of such replies being unsupported by evidence-based medicine (87%). The level of medical misinformation and potential harm to patients seeking advice online is important for medical practitioners treating skin cancer and provides impetus for possible further research into online support and education groups that are moderated for misinformation.

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