Health-related Internet use among cancer survivors: data from the Health Information National Trends Survey, 2003–2008
- 1.1k Downloads
Increasing prevalence of Internet and new technologies are changing the communication pattern for patients and caregivers across the cancer care continuum. To date, little is known on how cancer survivors in the USA utilize the Internet for health-related purposes. This knowledge is crucial in developing effective communication programs to achieve quality and equitable cancer care.
Data from 2003, 2005, and 2008 iterations of the NCI-sponsored Health Information National Trends Survey(HINTS) were analyzed to: (1) compare health-related Internet use (hereafter HRIU) between individuals with and without a cancer diagnosis, (2) report trends, prevalence, and user profiles of HRIU, including support group participation, emailing provider, buying medicine online, and cancer information seeking on the Internet. Descriptive analyses and weighted multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed.
While Internet penetration is growing over the years across the USA, cancer survivors access the Internet at a lower rate than general population (49.4% to 56.4% vs. 63.1% to 66.3%). Once on the Internet, they are more likely to use it for health-related purposes. Disparities in Internet access persists, as higher likelihood of Internet access is associated with younger age, higher education, non-Hispanic White race/ethnicity, metropolitan residence, and better self-rated health. On the other hand, among Internet-accessing survivors, socio-demographic, and health factors do not play a significant role in determining the pattern of HRIU.
The study identifies an increasing trend in HRIU among survivors, though the digital divide remains in Internet access. The findings also point to opportunities for narrowing the divide and using Internet to better serve survivors’ needs, as individuals from wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences are equally engaging in health-related activities on the Internet.
Implications for survivors
To increase equity and effectiveness in communication and cancer care, Internet access, functions, and technology literacy are important factors to be considered.
KeywordsInternet Web 2.0 technologies Cancer survivors Cancer communication Health behavior
- 3.Fox S, Purcell K. Chronic disease and the Internet (2010). http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Chronic-Disease.aspx. Accessed 31 March 2010
- 17.Beckjord EB, Finney Rutten LJ, Squiers L, Arora NK, Volckmann L, Moser RP, et al. Use of the internet to communicate with health care providers in the United States: estimates from the 2003 and 2005 Health Information National Trends Surveys (HINTS). J Med Internet Res. 2007;9(3):e20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 23.Cantor D, Coa K, Crystal-Mansour S, Davis T, Dipko S, Sigman R. Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 2007 final report. Rockville: Westat; 2009.Google Scholar
- 24.Rizzo L, Moser RP, Waldron W, Wang Z, Davis WW. Analytic methods to examine changes across years using HINTS 2003 and 2005 data. USA: National Cancer Institute; 2008.Google Scholar
- 25.Demographics of Internet users, November19–December 20, 2008 Tracking Survey. http://www.pewinternet.org/Static-Pages/Data-Tools/DownloadData/~/media/Infographics/Trend%20Data/January%202009%20updates/Demographics%20of%20Internet%20Users%201%206%2009.jpg. Accessed 27 March 2009
- 26.Sarkar U, Karter AJ, Liu JY, Adler NE, Nguyen R, Lopez A, et al. The literacy divide: health literacy and the use of an internet-based patient portal in an integrated health system-results from the diabetes study of northern California (DISTANCE). J Health Commun. 2010;15 Suppl 2:183–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar