Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The best-known awareness event to fight the health issue is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). Twitter is a growing source of health information amongst users; however, little research exists into understanding how various organizations use their Twitter accounts to communicate about breast cancer during BCAM, as well as implications of this use for the health information consumers. In this context, there is also a dearth of research about if, and how organizations use behavioral change theories to tailor their social media content or not. The paper explored through qualitative content analysis how four different health related organizations- Susan G. Komen, US News Health, Woman’s Hospital and Breast Cancer Social Media use their Twitter accounts to talk about breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). In this study, all the tweets by these organizations were analyzed through the framework of behavioral change theory- Health Belief Model (HBM). The main purpose of this research study was to examine the tweets of the varied organizations for the presence or absence of theoretical constructs of Health Belief Model such as perceived threat, perceived benefits, perceived barriers and cues to action, which inform about the potential for users to take protective action against breast cancer. A content analysis based on theoretical lens of Health Belief Model (HBM) of 2916 tweets revealed that majority of the tweets posted by these organizations did not reflect the theoretical constructs of Health Belief Model. Out of all the tweets that represented the theoretical constructs, it was observed that “perceived barrier” (n= 781, 26.37%), was in the maximum number. This was followed by “cues to action” (n= 711, 24.01%), “perceived benefits” (n=397, 13.40%) and “perceived threat” (n=230, 7.76%). Overall the study demonstrated that different organizations shared valuable breast cancer related content on Twitter and each Twitter outlet took a different approach to its use of Twitter, evident through focus on different types of breast cancer related content, use of elements like hashtags and videos etc.



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Committee Chair

Lundy, Lisa