Internet health resources and the cancer patient.

Huang GJ, Penson DF
Cancer Invest. 2008 26 (2): 202-7

PMID: 18259953 · DOI:10.1080/07357900701566197

The last decade has witnessed an explosion of online information regarding cancer and healthcare. Accompanying this has been a large body of research analyzing the quality of this information, how patients perceive these data and how this affects the doctor-patient relationship. This report reviews this literature, summarizing the current state of internet health resources available to the cancer patient and identifying areas for future research. Studies indicate that there are considerable internet resources available to cancer patients and that patients are using these resources as secondary information sources. Specifically, studies indicate that 16-64% of patients are using the internet to obtain health information. For the most part, patients perceive the online information to be reliable but maintain a healthy degree of skepticism. Studies objectively evaluating cancer information on the internet indicate that there is reasonable quality, although the language level of many sites is higher than that of the average American, which may limit the utility of the websites. Finally, while there is widespread internet use by physicians, healthcare providers are skeptical of their patients' ability to use the internet and may even be somewhat threatened by it. In summary, while there is a fairly large literature on internet resources available to the cancer patient, more research is needed. Specifically, it is important to better understand how patients access health information online and their associated preferences so that we can improve cancer patient's access to high quality health information on the internet to facilitate decision-making and health outcomes.

MeSH Terms (7)

Decision Making Humans Information Services Information Storage and Retrieval Internet Neoplasms Patient Education as Topic

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