Social media, specifically Facebook, could be a way to reach people living in areas where information about cancer prevention might otherwise be lacking, suggests a study.
The findings showed that new strategies of communication can be an effective way to reach hard-to-reach populations with information and strategies for cancer prevention.
In the study, researchers from the University of Colorado started an initiative called EndCancer to explore ways to remind patients to go for a colonoscopy that detects changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
“The idea was to start a text messaging campaign for cancer prevention,” says Andrea Dwyer from the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
The advertising included radio slots, Facebook promotions and even locally posted flyers encouraging people in the community to text a given number to opt into information and reminders about cancer screening.
While radio and flyers were largely unsuccessful in driving enrolment, Facebook advertising resulted in 22,600 users exposed to ads.
“Facebook was a good mechanism. The engagement was high with Facebook ads, and those who viewed ads clicked through to the sign-up page, an indication of intent to enrol,” Dwyer said.
And once people signed up, they stayed enrolled. A full 96 per cent of participants who texted to sign up stayed enrolled to receive all planned information/reminders in places that patients will notice, said researchers in a paper published in the journal mHealth.