Cancer Patients' Web Use

Goals

Determine how patients with cancer and their caregivers use the web for research, and if they would be open to advertising on healthcare content sites.

Early Findings

  • In one study, 76.2% of cancer patients used the internet since being diagnosed with cancer. Of those that used the internet, the most common activity was searching for information, and they did this most frequently directly after diagnosis. They also used the internet to stay in touch with friends and relatives.
  • Those that did use the internet were younger, more likely to have a partner, and had a higher education level.
  • Some patients felt that the internet empowered them and allowed them to gain the knowledge necessary to discuss their options with their healthcare providers.
  • Patient's also used the internet to manage their symptoms and to help them make treatment decisions. They also look for nutrition information and clinical trials.
  • Patient's also used support groups on the internet and social media. Patient's wanted to discuss cancer only with those that have experienced it, and can do so over the internet. Some people also appreciated the anonymity of the internet, and the ability to access it whenever they desired.
  • Very limited information about how cancer patient's feel about targeted advertising was limited. However, it was determined that cancer patients do not respond well to targeted advertising for products they do not believe provide truthful information.
  • False information about cancer is most likely to be presented on social media.

Proposed next steps:

You need to be the project owner to select a next step.
The initial research determined that information was plentiful on how cancer patients use the internet. As such, we recommend further research to provide 5-7 additional insights on this topic. Further, the initial research found that information on patients' feelings on advertisements were limited, so we recommend expanding the scope to look for how healthcare patients in general (not cancer-focused) respond to digital advertising. We could provide 5-7 insights on this subject.
Additionally, we could identify 3-5 of the most commonly used websites for cancer patients in research and support.