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J Cancer Educ. 2013 Dec;28(4):662-8. doi: 10.1007/s13187-013-0509-6.

Tangled in the breast cancer web: an evaluation of the usage of web-based information resources by breast cancer patients.

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  • 1British Columbia Cancer Agency-Fraser Valley Centre, Surrey, BC, Canada.


This study describes Internet use by breast cancer patients highlighting search patterns and examining the impact of web-based information on the clinical encounter. From September 2011 to January 2012, breast cancer patients at a cancer center completed a survey. Answers were closed and open-ended. Eighty-one patients were approached and 56 completed the survey. Forty-five (80 %) respondents used the Internet and 32 (71 %) searched for breast cancer information. All used Google as their principal search engine. To evaluate quality, 47 % referred to author credentials and 41 % examined references. Most sought information with respect to treatment or prognosis. Eighty percent felt that the information increased their knowledge and influenced treatment decision making for 53 %. This study highlights search patterns and factors used by breast cancer patients in seeking web-based information. Physicians must appreciate that patients use the Internet and address discrepancies between information sought and that which is available.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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