Arthur W. Page Center funds WSU research to enhance cancer communication

Closeup of Nicole O'Donnell
Nicole O'Donnell

The Arthur W. Page Center for Public Integrity has awarded a grant to Murrow College Assistant Professor Nicole O’Donnell for her research on improving social media campaigns for bone marrow donations. Her work could potentially benefit the more than one million people diagnosed with blood cancers, such as leukemia, each year. 

O’Donnell’s research aims to enhance understanding of how health care professionals and patients can effectively share personal narratives on social media platforms, such as Facebook, to motivate people to become donors. At the same time, the study will investigate the ethical implications of sharing children’s stories in such campaigns, including children’s emotional well-being, digital footprints, and privacy.

“Families who are experiencing life-threatening diseases like cancer often want to share their stories online to build community and raise awareness,” O’Donnell said. “This research will hopefully provide them with a guidebook for how to do that in a thoughtful and responsible manner, ensuring the well-being of patients.”

“Families who are experiencing life-threatening diseases like cancer often want to share their stories online to build community and raise awareness.”

Murrow College Assistant Professor Nicole O’Donnell
Washington State University

The research will also incorporate an in-lab experiment as well as follow-up interviews to evaluate audience responses to adult and pediatric emotional appeals. 

The results of this research will contribute to the development of ethical guidelines for promoting bone marrow donations and ensuring that these life-saving campaigns are conducted in a responsible manner. 

This research follows up on a study that O’Donnell conducted in 2020 that was published in the Journal of Health Communication. Her prior research has examined how individuals use social media to raise awareness.

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