Forums and Online Support
Online forums and social media are a great way for individuals to interact and connect with others and receive real time information on important news, the latest research and current events. They act as a type of online community that gives participants the opportunity to share stories and experiences, engage and connect with others while utilizing an additional outlet for support in conjunction with their familial and health networks.
Online communities such as discussion forums, are designed to be an interactive environment that promotes openness, confidentiality and safety, and enables members with the opportunity to express themselves through communicating and connecting with others. Cancer forums specifically are a place for individuals to talk about their type of cancer, their treatments, and share their personal journeys and experiences. A cancer forum can be a place for all kinds of people touched by cancer to interact with one another. For example, patients, caregivers, family members and friends can utilize this type of outlet to discuss personal experiences, treatment options, exchange perspectives, discuss health concerns, and receive additional support.
Most cancer forums are connected to a main cancer organization such as for example, BreastCancer.org which provides a plethora of services, resources and educational materials to patients in addition to giving them access to an online community of individuals sharing similar experiences. In order to post and share stories through forums, interested individuals would have to register to participate in discussions. Once registered, members can connect with other members, ask questions, give and receive support, offer guidance and encouragement and make use of the connections they make through the forum.
Like forums, social media enables people with the ability to connect and converse with others, ask questions and find answers, share experiences and opinions through blogs, tweets, posts, and receive real time information form leading professionals in the medical field. In addition to discovering new perspectives originating from a variety of sources, making new friends, and connecting with people you wouldn’t have meet under normal circumstances. Patients can use social media to share their stories, connect with others and find helpful and useful information.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) which is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a wonderful YouTube page that features videos covering many different aspects of the research that the NCI supports and connects viewers to educational research based health information and resources. UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has a very informative and up to date Twitter page, named UCLA Fights Cancer, that provides followers with up to date information regarding cancer awareness, research, fundraising events, and insightful and important news and tips. Our Center is active on both Twitter and Facebook, and is a great resource for patients interested in learning more about our center, getting updates on upcoming events, and receiving information from our blog, links to recent videos, and updates about our support groups.
Joining an online forum or engaging in social media can be a great avenue for patients interested in interacting and connecting through an online community. Oncologists, physicians and all types of health care professionals and organizations are utilizing social media to discuss the latest research, current clinical trials, available screening options, new treatments, recent news on FDA approved drugs, and so much more to engage with eager individuals looking to receive real time information on a variety of topics within the healthcare field.