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Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2007 Jun;19(5):356-62. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

A study of information seeking by cancer patients and their carers.

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  • 1School of Education, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.



To examine cancer patients' and carers' use of, and attitudes to, the Internet as an information source compared with other media.


The study was carried out in two phases: in phase I, interviews were used to construct a suitable instrument. In phase II, interviews were completed with 800 recently diagnosed patients and 200 carers.


Relatively few patients (4.8%), but a high proportion of carers (48%), accessed the Internet directly for cancer information. However, around half of the patients used Internet information provided by someone else, generally a family member. The use of Internet information was uniformly low among ethnic minorities. Those who accessed Internet information reported high levels of satisfaction and generally rated it higher than booklets or leaflets. When asked who they would like to provide Internet information, overwhelmingly patients wanted the hospital doctor to do so. When this was done, there was very high compliance. Carers were much more proactive information seekers than patients.


The Internet is an effective means of information provision in those who use it. Facilitated Internet access and directed use by health professionals would be effective ways of broadening access to this medium.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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