A recent study conducted The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center has found that millions of women are turning to social media platform TikTok for health advice related to gynecologic cancers. However, the study reveals that the majority of the information found on TikTok is misleading or dramatically inaccurate.
The study, published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology, highlights the power of social media to spread misinformation that can be harmful to patient health outcomes. Dr. Laura Chambers, the senior study author, emphasizes the importance of addressing gaps in care that may go unspoken in a clinic appointment.
Chambers was particularly interested in understanding how her patients, who are often mothers and young women, were using social media, what information they were sharing, and how they were consuming that information. The intent of the study was to identify the unspoken concerns of these patients and address them.
The study systematically searched for the 500 most popular TikTok posts and analyzed the top five hashtags for each gynecologic cancer. They assessed the quality and reliability of the information shared through TikTok for key themes and demographic information.
Unfortunately, the researchers found that the quality of the information being shared on TikTok was poor. At least 73% of the content was inaccurate and of poor educational quality. Racial disparities in gynecologic cancer extended into this social media space.
These findings raise questions about how to address these inaccuracies and improve communication with patients, especially in terms of creating more diverse content to overcome racial and cultural disparities in cancer treatment.
Dr. Chambers emphasizes the importance of seeking out reputable sources of information for health advice on gynecologic cancers. Patients are encouraged to find in-person and online support communities sponsored reputable medical and patient advocacy organizations.
In conclusion, while TikTok may provide a platform for individuals to share their personal cancer journeys, it is crucial to be cautious and seek reliable and accurate information. The medical community and broader community should work together to provide quality health information and support services to those seeking information about gynecologic cancers.
– The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute
– Gynecologic Oncology journal