Online social media platforms are an important tool for individuals who wish to exchange ideas, stories, feelings, information. Hospitals and public health organizations can use social media platforms, including Instagram, to engage, interact or communicate with patients, family members and anyone interested in health information or new discoveries. The purpose of this study is to understand the main characteristics of user-generated digital narratives on the Instagram pages of two Brazilian cancer hospitals. The study fills a gap in the literature on cancer communication by studying a language other than English in a Latin American context, and examining user-generated comments over a period of more than 6 years. The findings of the authors’ content analysis show a preponderance of positive and social support messages, even though cancer is a disease laden with negative stigma. Religiosity, which can strengthen supportive social ties and create a stronger sense of empowerment and control, was also a hallmark of these narratives. In the content analysis of Brazilian cancer hospitals’ Instagram accounts, the predominant characteristic of user comments was that of positivity, even though cancer is a disease laden with negative stigma.
Key words: Social media, Instagram, digital narratives, cancer, content analysis.
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