Online health community experiences of sexual minority women with cancer.

Author(s): Lee YJ,  Kamen C,  Margolies L,  Boehmer U

Journal: J Am Med Inform Assoc

Date: 2019 Aug 1

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): NCORP

PubMed ID: 31361002

PMC ID: PMC6696497

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The study sought to explore online health communities (OHCs) for sexual minority women (SMW) with cancer by conducting computational text analysis on posts. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eight moderated OHCs were hosted by the National LGBT Cancer Network from 2013 to 2015. Forty-six SMW wrote a total of 885 posts across the OHCs, which were analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count and latent Dirichlet allocation. Pearson correlation was calculated between Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count word categories and participant engagement in the OHCs. Latent Dirichlet allocation was used to derive main topics. RESULTS: Participants (average age 46 years; 89% white/non-Hispanic) who used more sadness, female-reference, drives, and religion-related words were more likely to post in the OHCs. Ten topics emerged: coping, holidays and vacation, cancer diagnosis and treatment, structure of day-to-day life, self-care, loved ones, physical recovery, support systems, body image, and symptom management. Coping was the most common topic; symptom management was the least common topic. DISCUSSION: Highly engaged SMW in the OHCs connected to others via their shared female gender identity. Topics discussed in these OHCs were similar to OHCs for heterosexual women, and sexual identity was not a dominant topic. The presence of OHC moderators may have driven participation. Formal comparison between sexual minority and heterosexual women's OHCs are needed. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the experiences of SMW cancer survivors and can inform the development of tailored OHC-based interventions for SMW who are survivors of cancer.