An examination into audience targeting and the use of storytelling or statistical evidence on breast cancer websites

Pamela Whitten, Samantha Nazione, Sandi Smith, Carolyn LaPlante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: This research sought to address the presence of information targeting low literacy, racially diverse, non-English speaking, and age diverse audiences on breast cancer websites. In addition, this study documented the utilization of evidence strategies, either statistics or storytelling, for these audiences. Methods: This research examined these relationships on 157 breast cancer websites through content analysis. Results: Nearly half of websites did not contain any of the elements targeting diverse literacy, racial/ethnic, language, and age audiences. Websites with multiple languages were more likely than monolingual websites to use statistics, and websites with low literacy sections were less likely than others to do so. Websites with ethnic or racial diversity and age diversity were more likely than other websites to use first person storytelling about breast cancer. Conclusion: Current breast cancer websites demonstrate promising use of targeting specific audiences and employing evidence strategies prescribed as effective by past research, however there is room for improvement. Practice implications: Tip sheets for incorporating audience targeting, readability, and storytelling should be created for health organizations to use in the process of developing their websites, as these constructs were found only sparingly on the assessed sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e59-e64
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers grant number U01 ES012800 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) , and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, DHHS . Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS or NCI, NIH.


  • Audience targeting
  • Breast cancer
  • Diversity
  • Internet
  • Literacy
  • Statistics
  • Storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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