Spotlight: #BCSM

Breast Cancer Social Media (#BCSM) Community is a volunteer organization whose mission is to empower those affected by breast cancer through web-based and digital programs that provide evidence-based information in a supportive and compassionate manner.

DeannaAliciaJody#BCSM began in 2011 as a conversation on twitter.

Noticing the lack of organized conversation for people with breast cancer like them, Jody Schoger and Alicia Staley started the on-line community in 2011 with a single question – could social media be used to unite, educate, and empower those affected by breast cancer? The answer: yes.

Schoger and Staley held a meeting on Twitter on July 4th that year — It was the very first #BCSM Chat. Since then, breast surgeon Dr. Deanna Attai joined the team, and they spend one hour every week in a moderated open forum dedicated to discussing key issues related to breast cancer.

What we love about #BCSM community is that it connects people from all over the world helping them to share knowledge and support. #BCSM is much more than a simple online chat. It creates networks and friendships among a patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers, advocates, and others who are committed to creating an engaged, informed, and empowered community.

In her essay “#BCSM, Cancer Advocacy and Education in the Virtual World”, #BCSM co-founder Jody Schoger outlined some of the key factors that characterize this community as a model for social media’s constructive potential in “peer-to-peer” health care:

  • Participants. #BCSM is one of the few health care chats to have a steady and supportive base of physicians, including medical oncologists, radiologists and surgeons;
  • Evidence-based. The moderating team includes a board certified breast surgeon, and “recaps” of clinical conferences including ASCO, ASBrS (American Society of Breast Surgeons) and SABCS, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium are becoming a regular feature;
  • Transparency. The moderators are volunteers. #BCSM is self-funded. Other breast cancer-related tweet chats, sponsored by Genentech and GEHealthcare, are largely promotional. The #BCSM culture discourages “blatant self promotion.”
  • Survivors. The blue ribbon goes to the survivors who participate. They are honest, supportive and caring, even when they disagree. They find the best in each other and celebrate that quality. They are the singular quality that makes #BCSM excellent.

A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that is co-authored by, among others, #BCSM moderators Deanna Attai, Alicia Staley and Jody Schoger, analyzed the results of a survey among #BCSM chat participants. They found that participation in a Twitter social media support group such as #BCSM increases breast cancer patients’ perceived knowledge and decreases their anxiety level.

If you’d like to tune in to the #BCSM Community:

The moderated weekly chats take place every Monday evening for an hour beginning at 9 pm Eastern / 8 pm Central / 6 pm Pacific on Twitter. All anyone needs to participate in a #BCSM tweet chat is a twitter account. If you’ve never participated in a tweetchat before here are some tips.

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