Introduction/Background Instagram is a powerful platform to raise awareness of various health issues. In recent years, this has been observed for gynaecological cancer awareness topics. Due to its visual nature and large outreach potential, Instagram provides a platform for educational exchange, health promotion, and building communities. Nevertheless, evidence of its use and its impact in raising awareness for vaginal cancer is still lacking. We aimed to identify the use of Instagram to raise awareness for vaginal cancer and the volume and type of posts that are used in relation to this relevant albeit rare gynaecological cancer.
Methodology We identified the volume of posts related to specific hashtags by using the Instagram search feature. We retrieved results from the following hashtags from October 2010 to May 5th, 2023: #vaginalcancer and #vaginalcancerawareness. We recorded and described the number of posts. Using the Instagram algorithm, we examined the top two posts related to the hashtags described. These were then thematically analysed to identify content. If a post received replies, these were analysed using a word cloud to identify the keywords being used.
Results We identified 11,832 and 293 posts on Instagram relating to #vaginalcancer and #vaginalcancerawareness, respectively. The main theme of the posts was eliminating stigma and embarrassment and promoting donations for raising awareness (table 1).
Conclusion Instagram is reported to have over one billion active users each month. It is increasingly used to raise health awareness, and there is an increasing trend within gynaecological cancers. Women are using Instagram to share their experiences and build communities. However, considering the enormous outreach this platform provides, its use relating to vaginal cancer remains suboptimal. As social media platforms also gain attention for gynaecologic cancer awareness, it is important that the medical community is aware of this and becomes active in sharing relevant, evidence-based information and updates.
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