A Content Analysis of the Discussions about Clinical Trials on A Cancer-dedicated Online Forum

Wei Peng, Aurora Occa, Soroya Julian McFarlane, Susan E. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Enrollment rates of cancer clinical trials remain low, affecting the delivery of effective medical treatments. Recent research has documented common factors affecting trial participation, but to improve these efforts more studies are needed to further understand specific concerns and issues of potential participants in multiple contexts. Forums and other online peer-to-peer health communities are crucial to the coping and survivorship of cancer patients. Online health communities will offer valuable information to understand how patients discuss perceptions, motivations, and challenges associated with clinical trial participation, and to understand how patients provide support to each other. The present study conducted a content analysis of 270 posts shared by 154 unique users between August 2017 and January 2018 on a popular online breast cancer forum. The analysis identifies common characteristics of patient users, salient post themes, perceived barriers, emotions, and misconceptions regarding clinical trial participation. The study findings are generally consistent with previous studies but provide in-depth insights into online support between cancer patients about clinical trial participation. Implications for practice and future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-922
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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