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J Health Commun. 2012;17(2):125-40. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.585687. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Creating a bond between caregivers online: effect on caregivers' coping strategies.

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  • 1School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Numerous studies have investigated the effect of Interactive Cancer Communication Systems (ICCSs) on system users' improvements in psychosocial status. Research in this area, however, has focused mostly on cancer patients, rather than on caregivers, and on the direct effects of ICCSs on improved outcomes, rather than on the psychological mechanisms of ICCS effects. To understand the underlying mechanisms, this study examines the mediating role of perceived caregiver bonding in the relation between one ICCS (the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System [CHESS]) use and caregivers' coping strategies. To test the hypotheses, a secondary analysis of data was conducted on 246 caregivers of lung cancer patients. These caregivers were randomly assigned to (a) the Internet, with links to high-quality lung cancer websites, or (b) access to CHESS, which integrated information, communication, and interactive coaching tools. Findings suggest that perceived bonding has positive effects on caregivers' appraisal and problem-focused coping strategies, and it mediates the effect of ICCS on the coping strategies 6 months after the intervention has begun.

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