An Online Forum Exploring Needs for Help of Patients With Cancer: Gender and Ethnic Differences

Eun-Ok Im

Wonshik Chee

Hyun Ju Lim

Wen-Miao Liu

ONF 2008, 35(4), 653-660. DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.653-660

Purpose/Objectives: To explore gender and ethnic differences in needs for help among patients with cancer.

Research Approach: Qualitative.

Setting: Internet and community settings.

Participants: 16 self-identified patients with cancer aged at least 18 years who could read and write English.

Methodologic Approach: Using six discussion topics on needs for help, an online forum was administered for one month. Data were analyzed with thematic analysis.

Main Research Variables: Need for help.

Findings: Four major themes emerged: (a) from side effects to racism, (b) same or double stress, (c) cultural hesitance and God, and (d) a family disease with mistrust. Depending on gender and ethnicity, the participants' concerns were various and ranged from a simple physical need to a social need for elimination of racism in United States society. Women tended to report double burden and stress as patients with cancer resulting from their gender. Ethnic minorities tended to be hesitant to talk about cancer or seek help because of the stigmatized nature of cancer. Ethnic minority patients perceived cancer as a family disease that they needed to go through as a family, and they tended to mistrust healthcare providers.

Conclusions: The overriding theme was a marginalized experience for ethnic minority patients with cancer.

Interpretation: Researchers should include cultural needs as a separate category of needs and consider contextual factors influencing the needs of patients with cancer in their daily lives.

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