Pharma Focus Asia

The Emotional Side of Taking Part in a Cancer Clinical Trial

Mariam Chichua, Chiara Filipponi, Davide Mazzoni, Gabriella Pravettoni.

Abstract
Taking part in a cancer clinical trial often represents a source of psychological distress and emotional activation among patients and their caregivers. Nowadays, social media platforms provide a space for these groups to freely express and share their emotional experiences.

Introduction
Cancer patients can see participating in a clinical trial as an opportunity with several benefits, but it also represents a source of psychological distress and emotional activation. For example, patients who are offered to participate in clinical trials testing the safety or efficacy of new therapies can experience fear of the unknown and the fear that they will be considered only as one experimental subject rather than a person.

Material and Methods:

Ethics statement
All posts included in the analysis are publicly available online data; therefore, ethical committee approval was not required for conducting this study. That said, we acknowledge the importance of the cautious use of public data.
Data collection
The data was retrieved from the subreddit ‘cancer’ with 45.9 K subscribers.

Discussion
Online platforms provide a space for users to unload their tension and emotional discharge without taking responsibility for the effects this may have on others. In regard to emotional needs, social media platforms may satisfy the need for both emotional support (the communication between two or more users in which they mutually share and discuss their affective needs) and emotional expression (the freedom with which patients can disclose their experiences, regardless of if someone responds to them, without the concern that the shared experience will impact others around them).

Acknowledgments:
Mariam Chichua and Chiara Filipponi are PhD students within the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM).

Citation: Chichua M, Filipponi C, Mazzoni D, Pravettoni G (2023) The emotional side of taking part in a cancer clinical trial. PLoS ONE 18(4): e0284268. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0284268

Editor: Takeru Abe, Yokohama City University, JAPAN

Received: August 30, 2022; Accepted: March 27, 2023; Published: April 24, 2023.

Copyright: © 2023 Chichua et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All data was extracted from publicly available posts. The following URLs were used for downloading the posts: https://api.pushshift.io/reddit/search/comment?q=new*drug&subreddit=cancer&size=500 https://api.pushshift.io/reddit/search/comment?q=clinical*trial&subreddit=cancer&size=500 https://api.pushshift.io/reddit/search/comment?q=new*treatment&subreddit=cancer&size=500 https://api.pushshift.io/reddit/search/comment?q=experimental*trial&subreddit=cancer&size=500 https://api.pushshift.io/reddit/search/comment?q=experimental*drug&subreddit=cancer&size=500 https://api.pushshift.io/reddit/search/comment?q=experimental*treatment&subreddit=cancer&size=500.

Funding: This work was partially supported by the Italian Ministry of Health with Ricerca Corrente and 5x1000 funds.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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