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J Med Internet Res. 2002 Apr-Nov;4(2):E9.

Use of the Internet by women with breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.



Recently, many cancer patients have been using the Internet for information with which to make informed choices. We are not aware of any studies that investigate this Internet use among breast cancer patients or women.


We investigate the prevalence and predictors of Internet use for medical information among women with breast cancer.


We used a cross-sectional design and approached 251 women with breast cancer being treated at a university-based hospital. We successfully interviewed 188 (74.9%), through mailed self-report questionnaires. Medical information was obtained from the hospital tumor registry. We used t tests and chi-square tests to assess differences in Internet use for breast health issues and binary logistic regression to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for predictors of Internet use for breast health issues.


In our sample, 41.5% of patients used the Internet for medical information. Internet users differed from nonusers on income level, educational level, and by race/ethnicity. After controlling for the other predictors, Internet users had a higher income (OR = 3.10; 95% CI = 1.09-8.85) and tended to be more educated (OR = 2.59; 95% CI = 0.87-7.74) than nonusers. There was also a suggestion that those of nonwhite ethnicity were less likely to use the Internet (OR = 0.39; 95% CI = 0.14-1.11). Increasing age, length of time since diagnosis, and breast cancer stage had no effect.


A substantial proportion of breast cancer patients used the Internet as a source of information. Patients with higher income or education, and patients of white race/ethnicity are more likely to use the Internet for breast health issues.

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