Patients' Attitudes Toward Internet Cancer Support Groups

Eun-Ok Im

Wonshik Chee

Hyun Ju Lim

Yi Liu

Enrique Guevara

Kyung Suk Kim

Internet, support group, attitudes
ONF 2007, 34(3), 705-712. DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.705-712

Purpose/Objectives: To explore patients' attitudes toward Internet cancer support groups (ICSGs) through an online forum.

Research Approach: Qualitative study using a feminist perspective.

Setting: Internet and real settings.

Participants: 16 patients with cancer.

Methodologic Approach: An online forum was held for one month with six discussion topics. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Main Research Variables: Attitudes toward ICSGs.

Findings: Through the data-analysis process, four themes were found related to patients' attitudes toward ICSGs. First, the participants universalized patients' needs for and attitudes toward ICSGs. Second, most of the participants wanted to use ICSGs for emotional support, information, and interactions. Third, many of the participants used ICSGs because they could reach out to other patients with cancer without traveling and without interrupting their busy schedules. Finally, many participants were concerned about the security of interactions on ICSGs, so they wanted ICSGs that could ensure privacy and safeguard the anonymity and confidentiality of what they shared online.

Conclusions: Patients view ICSGs positively. Additional studies should examine gender-specific and multilanguage ICSGs by recruiting more ethnic minority patients.

Interpretation: Despite concerns about the security of Internet interactions, ICSGs would be an excellent source of social support that is acceptable to patients with cancer.

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