The Cancer patients who actively use the internet to gain insight into their illness display a far more positive outlook, and are well aware of the possible treatment measures. This study has been carried out by the Temple University and has been published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Health Communication.
The principal investigator and public health professor Sarah Bass, PhD has reiterated that this is the first study that has sought to unravel the connection between Internet use and patient behaviors. She said "we wanted to see if access to readily available information about their condition helped patients to cope with issues such as hair loss and other treatment side effects."
The researchers basically made an arrangement where 442 participant callers to the National Cancer Institute, were addressed by a panel of trained specialists who informed the callers about cancer related resources in their area. Next the participants were divided into 3 categories based n their internet usage -direct user, indirect user and non user.
It was seen that the direct and indirect users were women in the age bracket of 50 and 60, who were educated from colleges and were making an income of $60,000 or more a year. It was also evident, that there was a connection between internet use and the patient's response to the treatment. It was seen that those who sought to know more about their ailment from internet, family, friends etc were open to various options in treatment and displayed a comfort level in discussions with their doctors
"They saw the Internet as a powerful tool that enhanced their decision-making ability, they didn't want to feel powerless or have to rely on the doctor to make all of the decisions," Bass said.
Bass has a message to doctors and health workers, who should encourage patients to seek information about their treatment, but cautions that these should be recommended sources for authentic information.