Is there alignment amongst scientific literature, news media and patient forums regarding topics?: A study of breast and lung cancer
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

Purpose: During recent years, web technologies and mass media have become prevalent in the context of medicine and health. Two examples of important web technologies used in health are news media and patient forums. Both have a significant role in shaping patients' perspective and behaviour in relation to health and illness, as well as the way that they might choose or change their treatment. In this paper, the authors investigated the application of web technologies using the data analysis approach. The authors did this analysis from the point of view of topics being discussed and disseminated via patients and journalists in breast and lung cancer. The study also investigated the (dis)alignment amongst these two groups and scientists in terms of topics. Design/methodology/approach: Three data sets comprised documents published between 2014 and 2018 obtained from ProQuest and Web of Science Medline databases, alongside data from three major patient forums on breast and lung cancer. The analysis and visualisation in this paper have been done using the udpipe, igraph R packages and VOSviewer. Findings: The study’s findings showed that in general scientists focussed more on prognosis and treatment of cancer, whereas patients and journalists focussed more on detection, prevention and role of social and emotional support. The only exception was for news coverage of lung cancer where the largest cluster was related to treatment, research in cancer treatment and therapies. However, when comparing coverage by scientists and journalists in terms of treatment, the focus of news articles in both cancer types was mainly on chemotherapy and complimentary therapies. Finally, topics such as lifestyle or pain management were only discussed by breast cancer patients. Originality/value: The results obtained from this study may provide valuable insights into topics of interest for each group of scientists, journalist and patients as well as (dis)alignment among them in terms of topics. These findings are important as scientific research is heavily dependent on communication, and research does not exist in a bubble. Scientists and journalists can gain insights from patients' experiences and needs, which in turn may help them to have a more holistic and realistic view. Peer review: The peer review history for this article is available at:

Health information science

Lung cancer

Breast cancer

News coverage

Topic (dis)alignment

Patient forums



Tahereh Dehdarirad

Chalmers, Vetenskapens kommunikation och lärande, Forskarstöd, bibliometri och rankning

Jonathan Freer

Chalmers, Vetenskapens kommunikation och lärande, Forskarstöd, bibliometri och rankning

Online Information Review

1468-4527 (ISSN) 1468-4535 (eISSN)

Vol. 45 5 983-999


Data- och informationsvetenskap

Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap

Bioinformatik (beräkningsbiologi)

Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap

Systemvetenskap, informationssystem och informatik med samhällsvetenskaplig inriktning



Mer information

Senast uppdaterat