Advertisement

Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 885–891 | Cite as

“Others Like Me”. An Approach to the Use of the Internet and Social Networks in Adolescents and Young Adults Diagnosed with Cancer

  • Martí DomínguezEmail author
  • Lucía Sapiña
Article

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to improve comprehension about how adolescents and young adults (AYA) diagnosed with cancer use the Internet and social networks to seek information about their illness and to establish relationships between them. A group of 20 AYA patients and survivors of cancer (ages 14 to 29) were interviewed from a qualitative approach. Most of the respondents (N = 16) sought information about their disease on the Internet. They looked for information using search engines (mainly Google) and general concepts as their own cancer name. In general, they did not share the information obtained with their parents or professional healthcare providers. The interviewees think that the information is difficult to understand because of jargon and that it is not aimed at a young audience. All (N = 20) have presence in social networking sites. AYAs with cancer are starting to create content themselves: three started a blog in order to explain their experience to others like them. The study shows that is necessary to increase efforts on adapting content to these age groups in order to help them learn more about their own disease. This may contribute to increment their adherence to treatment and to maintain surveillance of potential consequences and health problems post-treatment.

Keywords

AYAs with cancer Adolescent cancer Patient engagement Social networks Health communication 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Research Project “The Language and Culture of Health” (CS02014-61928-EXP).

References

  1. 1.
    Klimstra T, Beyers W, Besevegis E (2014) Personality dynamics in adolescence. J Adolesc 37(5):643–646CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Yates S, Payne M, Dyson S (2009) Children and young people in hospitals: doing youth work in medical settings. J Youth Stud 12(1):77–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barr RD (2009) The adolescent with cancer. Eur J Cancer 37(12):1523–1527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zebrack B (2011) Psychological, social, and behavioral issues for young adults with cancer. Cancer 117(S10):2289–2294CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    National Cancer Institute. A snapshot of adolescent and young adult cancers. NCI. 2014. Available from: http://www.cancer.gov/researchandfunding/snapshots/adolescent-young-adult
  6. 6.
    Gatta G, Zigon G, Capocaccia R, Coebergh JW et al (2009) Survival of european children and young adults with cancer diagnosed 1995-2002. Eur J Cancer 45:992–1005CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bleyer A, Barr R, Hayes-Lattin B et al (2008) The distinctive biology of cancer in adolescents and young adults. Nat Rev Cancer 8:288–298CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lee C, Gray SW, Lewis N (2010) Internet use leads cancer patients to be active health care consumers. Patient Educ Couns 8:S63–S69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    A Lenhart, K Purcell, A Smith, K Zickuhr. Social media and mobile internet use among teens and young adults [Internet]. Pew Internet. 2010. Accessed 11 October 2014 from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/02/03/social-media-and-young-adults
  10. 10.
    Gage EA, Panagakis C (2012) The devil you know: parents seeking information online for paediatric cancer. Sociol Health Ill 34(3):444–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Coulson NS, Greenwood N (2012) Families affected by childhood cancer: an analysis of the provision of social support within online support groups. Child Care Health Dev 38(6):870–877CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hargrave DR, Hargrave UA, Bouffet E (2006) Quality of health information on the internet in pediatric neuro-oncology. Neuro Oncol 8(2):175–182CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Domínguez M, Sapiña L (2015) Pediatric cancer and the internet: exploring the gap in doctor-parents communication. J Cancer Educ 30:145–151CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lam CG, Roter DL, Cohen KJ (2013) Survey of quality, readability, and social reach of websites on osteosarcoma in adolescents. Patient Educ Couns 90(1):82–87CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Stinson JN, Sung L, Gupta A et al (2012) Disease self-management needs of adolescents with cancer: perspectives of adolescents with cancer and their parents and healthcare providers. J Cancer Surviv 6:278–286CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Schiffman JD, Csongradi E, Suzuki LK (2008) Internet use among adolescent and young adults (AYA) with cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer 51(3):410–415CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Handcock MS, Gile KJ (2011) Comment: on the concept of snowball sampling. Sociol Methodol 41(1):367–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bauer M, Gaskell G (2000) Qualitative researching with text, image and sound; a practical handbook. Sage, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hutchison AJ, Johnston LH, Breckon JD (2010) Using QSR-NVivo to facilitate the development of a grounded theory project: an account of a worked example. Int J Soc Res Methodol 13(4):283–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zebrack B, Walsh-Burke K (2005) Advocacy needs of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. J Psychosoc Oncol 22(2):75–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zebrack B, Kent E, Keegan THM et al (2014) ‘Cancer sucks’ and other ponderings by adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. J Psychosoc Oncol 32(1):1–15CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kent EE, Smith AW, Keegan THM et al (2013) Talking about cancer and meeting peer survivors: social information needs of adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer. J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 2:44–52CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mascarin M, Truccolo I, Byther E et al (2014) Cancer, adolescence, and their peers: ‘they’ll give you a story’. J Cancer Educ 29:434–440CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Maurice-Stam H, Scholten L, de Gee EA et al (2014) Feasibility of an online cognitive behavioral-based group intervention for adolescents treated for cancer: a pilot study. J Psychosoc Oncol 32(3):310–321CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Treadgold CL, Kuperberg A (2010) Been there, done that, wrote the blog: the choices and challenges of supporting adolescents and young adults with cancer. J Clinic Oncol 28(32):4842–4849CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the Theory of Language and Communication Sciences, Faculty of Philology, Translation and CommunicationUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.The Two Cultures ObservatoryUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain

Personalised recommendations