Black Patients Not Represented in Breast Reconstruction Images Online

Underrepresentation in social media images might be one factor contributing to the decreasing trend in breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer among African American women, according to a study published in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Black Patients in Breast Reconstruction Imagery

Abbas M. Hassan, M.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg Sch7ool of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed the inclusion of African American women in social media posts for breast reconstruction. Images (2,580 photographs) were obtained manually from social media platforms in December 2019.

The researchers found that 172 photographs (6.7 percent) included non-White women. A survey of 543 surgeons (5 percent of whom were non-White) revealed that 30 percent of surgeons did not have any photographs of non-White patients uploaded, with White surgeons more likely than non-White surgeons to upload photographs featuring minority women (74 versus 24 percent). Among a random sample of the top plastic surgery social media influencers, only 5 percent of uploaded photographs included non-White patients.

“This study highlights the evolving factors that may impair African American breast cancer patients’ access to safe, effective breast reconstruction, which must be identified and resolved,” the authors write.

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