Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 360–370 | Cite as

How Do Cancer Patients Navigate the Public Information Environment? Understanding Patterns and Motivations for Movement Among Information Sources

  • Rebekah H. Nagler
  • Anca Romantan
  • Bridget J. Kelly
  • Robin S. Stevens
  • Stacy W. Gray
  • Shawnika J. Hull
  • A. Susana Ramirez
  • Robert C. Hornik


Little is known about how patients move among information sources to fulfill unmet needs. We interviewed 43 breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer patients. Using a grounded theory approach, we identified patterns and motivations for movement among information sources. Overall, patients reported using one source (e.g., newspaper) followed by the use of another source (e.g., Internet), and five key motivations for such cross-source movement emerged. Patients’ social networks often played a central role in this movement. Understanding how patients navigate an increasingly complex information environment may help clinicians and educators to guide patients to appropriate, high-quality sources.


Information seeking Cross–source engagement Grounded theory Complementarity theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebekah H. Nagler
    • 1
  • Anca Romantan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bridget J. Kelly
    • 1
    • 3
  • Robin S. Stevens
    • 1
    • 4
  • Stacy W. Gray
    • 1
    • 5
  • Shawnika J. Hull
    • 1
  • A. Susana Ramirez
    • 1
  • Robert C. Hornik
    • 1
  1. 1.Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, Annenberg School for CommunicationUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of CommunicationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Research Triangle InstituteWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Health Behavior and Communication Research, Annenberg Public Policy CenterUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Center for Outcomes and Policy ResearchDana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA

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