Online Cancer Mentorship

Designing and conducting user studies for the Peer Mentoring project which aims to connect cancer patients on online health communities.


Peer health com­mu­ni­ties offer a broad base of per­sonal health exper­tise, but uncov­er­ing men­tors with shared cir­cum­stances takes time and energy that is in short supply for cancer patients and caregivers . To address this chal­lenge, our research team col­lab­o­rated with CancerConnect, an online can­cer com­mu­nity, to iden­tify men­tor­ship char­ac­ter­is­tics for com­mu­nity mem­bers, develop social match­ing tools to con­nect peers, and assess the value of social match­ing for peer men­tor­ship. Find­ings enhance our under­stand­ing of patients’ peer sup­port needs and how we may meet those needs in the future.


This study resulted in a collection of quantitative and qualitative data regarding the experiences of cancer patients and caregivers. These findings were then translated into actionable recommendations for the development of matching tools in online health communities.

An academic paper, “Leveraging cues from person-generated health data for peer matching in online,” of which I am a co-author, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) in February, 2016.

URS poster final 5-12 (2)


My role: I was hired onto this team as a research assistant, aiding in the design and pilot testing of one user study within a larger project. After a few months, I found myself leading recruitment and interviews for the study. I also conducted the qualitative analysis at the conclusion of the study.


Our team of researchers conducted a series of mixed-method interviews to understand how patients and caregivers seek expertise and support in online health communities. Participants were presented with open ended questions about their experiences with cancer as well as asked to complete a card sorting exercise with hypothetical mentor profiles

Interview transcripts were qualitatively analyzed using affinity diagrams. Emerging themes were later tied to statistical findings from the card sorting exercise.

Portfolio Draft

Findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) as well as presented in the Undergraduate Research symposium at the University of Washington.