Patterns of social media use and associations with psychosocial outcomes among breast and gynecologic cancer survivors

L. T. Tolby
E. N. Hofmeister
S. Fisher
S. Chao
C. Benedict, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
A. W. Kurian
J. S. Berek
L. Schapira
O. G. Palesh

Abstract

© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Purpose: We sought to characterize the use of social media (SM) among breast and gynecologic cancer survivors, as well as associations between patterns of SM use and psychosocial outcomes. Methods: Two hundred seventy-three breast and gynecologic cancer survivors recruited at the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center completed the study. Participants completed questionnaires to measure quality of life (FACT-G), functional social support (Duke-UNC FSSQ), distress (PHQ-4), decision regret (DRS), and SM use. Results: In total, 75.8% of the sample reported using SM. There was no difference in quality of life (QOL), functional social support (FSS), distress, or decision regret between SM users and non-users. SM users indicated using SM for social support (34.3%) and loneliness (24.6%) more than for information-seeking (15.9%), coping (18.8%), or self-disclosure (14%). SM use for coping was associated with lower QOL (p <.001), lower FSS (p <.001), and higher decision regret (p =.029). Use for social support was associated with lower FSS (p =.029). Use for information seeking was associated with lower QOL (p =.012). Use of SM when lonely was associated with lower QOL (p <.001), higher distress (p =.007), lower FSS (p <.001), and higher decision regret (p =.020). Conclusions: Associations between SM use and psychosocial outcomes are nuanced and dependent on motivation for use. Further research is needed to better characterize SM use and associations with psychosocial outcomes among cancer survivors. Implications for Cancer Survivors: SM is an important potential avenue for understanding and addressing the psychosocial effects associated with cancer survivorship.