Web Conversations About Complementary/Alternative Medicines and Cancer: Content and Sentiment Analysis Ovarian Cancer and Us OVARIAN CANCER and US Ovarian Cancer and Us

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Web Conversations About Complementary/Alternative Medicines and Cancer: Content and Sentiment Analysis

abstract JMIR

Background: The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among cancer patients is widespread and mostly self-administrated. Today, one of the most relevant topics is the nondisclosure of CAM use to doctors. This general lack of communication exposes patients to dangerous behaviors and to less reliable information channels, such as the Web. The Italian context scarcely differs from this trend. Today, we are able to mine and analyze systematically the unstructured information available in the Web, to get an insight of people’s opinions, beliefs, and rumors concerning health topics.

Objective: Our aim was to analyze Italian Web conversations about CAM, identifying the most relevant Web sources, therapies, and diseases and measure the related sentiment.

Methods: Data have been collected using the Web Intelligence tool ifMONITOR.....

Results: Overall, 212 Web sources, 423 Web documents, and 868 opinions have been retrieved. The overall sentiment measured tends to a good score (3.6 of 5). Quite a high polarization in the opinions of the conversation partaking emerged from standard variation analysis (σ≥1). In total, 126 of 212 (59.4%) Web sources retrieved were nonhealth-related. Facebook (89; 21%) and Yahoo Answers (41; 9.7%) were the most relevant. In total, 94 CAM therapies have been retrieved. Most belong to the “biologically based therapies or nutrition” category: 339 of 868 opinions (39.1%), showing an MSS of 3.9 (σ=0.83). Within nutrition, “diets” collected 154 opinions (18.4%) with an MSS of 3.8 (σ=0.87); “food as CAM” overall collected 112 opinions (12.8%) with a MSS of 4 (σ=0.68). Excluding diets and food, the most discussed CAM therapy is the controversial Italian “Di Bella multitherapy” with 102 opinions (11.8%) with an MSS of 3.4 (σ=1.21). Breast cancer was the most mentioned disease: 81 opinions of 868.

Conclusions: Conversations about CAM and cancer are ubiquitous. There is a great concern about the biologically based therapies, perceived as harmless and useful, under-rating all risks related to dangerous interactions or malnutrition. Our results can be useful to doctors to be aware of the implications of these beliefs for the clinical practice. Web conversation exploitation could be a strategy to gain insights of people’s perspective for other controversial topics.

J Med Internet Res 2016;18(6):e120



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