Angelina Jolie’s announcement about cancer and the substantial effects on patient decision making about medical procedures

Cancer Information Seeking in the Digital Age Effects of Angelina Jolie’s Prophylactic Mastectomy Announcement

From Medical Decision Making

Public figure or celebrity announcements about cancer can have substantial effects on patient decision making about medical procedures. This study used digital surveillance to examine the impact of Angelina Jolie’s prophylactic mastectomy announcement on cancer information seeking. Both medical  and popular  literature has raised the question of whether there was an “Angelia effect” resulting from Jolie’s announcement. The data suggest that there was a strong effect, particularly on information seeking about breast cancer genetic testing and treatment, although the surge in queries returned to preannouncement levels after 1 week.

Abstract

Objective. This study used digital surveillance to examine the impact of Angelina Jolie’s prophylactic mastectomy announcement on cancer information seeking. Methods. We analyzed 4 categories of breast cancer–related Internet search queries from 2010 to 2013 in the United States. Results. Compared with the preceding 6 weeks, general information queries were 112% (95% confidence interval [CI], 79–146) higher the day of the announcement and remained 35% (95% CI, 22–49) higher over the week after the editorial. Risk assessment queries were 165% (95% CI, 110–222) higher the day of the announcement and 52% (95% CI, 31–75) higher across the week. Genetics and treatment queries showed little volume before the announcement but increased 2154% (95% CI, 1550–7076) and 9900% (95% CI, 3196–1,064,000) the day of, respectively, and remained higher across the week (812% [95% CI, 402–3913] and 2625% [95% CI, 551–317,000]). All query categories returned to normal volumes by the beginning of the second week. Conclusion. Jolie’s unique announcement spurred significant information seeking about breast cancer genetic testing and treatment procedures, although the surge in queries returned to preannouncement levels after 1 week. Future research should apply digital methods to advance our understanding of cancer information seeking in the digital age.

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Article details
Brief Report: Seth M. Noar, Benjamin M. Althouse, John W. Ayers, Diane B. Francis, and Kurt M. Ribisl
Cancer Information Seeking in the Digital Age: Effects of Angelina Jolie’s Prophylactic Mastectomy Announcement Med Decis Making 0272989X14556130, first published on October 27, 2014 doi:10.1177/0272989X14556130

 

 

 

     
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