Journal of Public Health

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 23–28 | Cite as

Internet use by the families of cancer patients—help for disease management?

  • Silke Kirschning
  • Ernst von Kardorff
  • Karolina Merai
Original Article

Abstract

Not only the people with a disease but also their family members are increasingly investigating illness-relevant subjects on the Internet. The focus of this article deals with the questions: Why do family members conduct research on the net? Do they use the net for themselves or do they pass on internet-based information to the patients? How does the information passed on influence therapy decisions? The question of how the relatives of women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer research illness-related subjects was examined by means of an online questionnaire. The survey comprised a total of 113 participants. Those surveyed came from Germany (93%), Austria (2%) and Switzerland (2%). The family members used the Internet primarily to inform themselves (91%) but also to convey information further to the sick person (78%). Approximately 40% said that the internet information they had found influenced treatment-relevant decisions. The main conclusions are that families judge the Internet as a great help and often do research for ill people who are not confident with this medium. Use of the Internet for illness-relevant information thus leads more often to reinforcement of the decision concerned than to non-compliance.

Keywords

Cancer patients Family members Internet use Health-related internet information Online survey 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silke Kirschning
    • 1
  • Ernst von Kardorff
    • 1
  • Karolina Merai
    • 1
  1. 1.Humboldt University of BerlinInstitute for Rehabilitation SciencesBerlinGermany

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