Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


School of Communication and Media

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Yi Luo

Committee Member

Todd Kelshaw

Committee Member

Philip Bakelaar


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Hospitals--Public relations, Nonprofit organizations--Public relations, Social media


Healthcare is a multi-faceted and complex organizational and social issue that affects many stakeholders (e.g., the ill, family, care taker, health institutions, etc.). Little research has examined how healthcare providers engaged with their targeted audiences on various social media. This thesis examined how nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in the healthcare industry use social media as a dialogic means to strategically engage with their stakeholders. This study conducted content analysis of the social media messages by four nonprofit research hospitals: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Lovejoy and Saxton’s (2012) “Information, Community, and Action” typology was adopted to probe the function and impact of their online communication. Highlights of the major findings included the following. First, the four hospitals use social media effectively. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute stood-out from their practice of rewording content. Second, Facebook was the preferred social media platform by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital stakeholders. Third, three hospitals (i.e., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) used Twitter to interact with audience during live symposiums and events. This study provided significant findings that can be instrumental to guide healthcare organizations to engage key stakeholders on social media in order to build quality relationships.

File Format


Included in

Communication Commons