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J Health Commun. 2005 Sep;10(6):567-80.

Where one size does not fit all: understanding the needs of potential users of a portal to breast cancer knowledge online.

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School of Information Management and Systems, Monash University, Caulfield East, Victoria 3145, Australia.


The article argues that, although the Internet has great potential for assisting people to find information on breast cancer, at present that potential is not being realised. The literature shows considerable dissatisfaction with information provision for breast cancer, including on the Internet where appropriate information suited to particular needs often cannot be found. An Australian project (Breast Cancer Knowledge Online [BCKOnline]), in its first stage, set out to explore the needs for breast cancer information using an ethnographic method and a purposive sample of 77 participants, most of them women with breast cancer. A portal, which will enable users to tailor information to their particular needs, is at present being developed based on the results of the needs analysis. The process includes user-selected profiles, enabled through "user-centric" resource descriptions, and a metadata repository that links the profiles with specific information resources. The article presents limited results from the needs analysis-those highlighting the differences between younger and older women and the problems with present Internet information provision as seen by the sample. The final section discusses how the portal will both tailor information to needs and assist with the problems with the Internet revealed in the literature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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