Cancer awareness campaigns compete with other health and social issues for public attention. We examined whether public engagement with breast cancer and prostate cancer declined in 2016 during the U.S. presidential election compared to 2015 on Twitter and Google Trends. We found that attention to breast cancer and prostate cancer declined in 2016 before the election as compared to 2015 in Twitter posts and Google searches. The findings suggest that cancer information seeking behavior, passive exposure to health communication, and active participation in social media about cancer all decreased during the peak weeks of the 2016 election season. Future health promotion initiatives and information dissemination efforts will benefit from monitoring the major issues garnering social media attention and then adjusting their timing or communication strategies to ensure that public engagement with their key policy messages remains strong when emerging news stories capture public interest.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by the provost’s Multidisciplinary Research Initiative at George Mason University. This paper analyzes publicly available data. Since no individuals were recruited for the study and this was therefore not human subjects research, the project was exempt from review by an institutional review board. Conflicts of Interest: None declared. Corresponding Author: Emily Vraga, firstname.lastname@example.org
- breast cancer
- prostate cancer