What makes cancer information viral on social media?

Xiaohui Wang, Liang Chen, Jingyuan Shi, Tai Quan Peng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Although critical in practice, as well as prevalent, limited effort has gone into understanding the driving factors behind the diffusion of cancer information on social media. This study seeks to comprehensively examine both the content and sender factors that determine cancer information diffusion. Specifically, a multidimensional measure is proposed to capture diffusion characteristics of cancer information, including the scale of information diffusion, structural virality of information diffusion, and the engagement in cancer discussion. A conceptual framework consisting of content and sender factors is proposed based on the heuristic-systematic model to account for cancer information diffusion. Through analyzing information diffusion networks of cancer-related information on Weibo, the results revealed that sender factors played determining roles in affecting information diffusion. The content factors also significantly predicted information diffusion. The factors driving engagement are substantially different from those of scale and virality of information diffusion. Implications for both information diffusion theories and cancer education on social media are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Content factors
  • Information diffusion
  • Sender factors
  • Social media


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