Internet Message Board Use by Patients With Cancer and Their Families
The Life After Cancer Care (LACC) Internet Web site and message board were created at a comprehensive cancer center to provide up-to-date information about different types of cancer, treatments, late effects, and research findings. The message board enables patients with cancer to exchange information on a more personal basis. During the 16-month period since the creation of the Web site, 972 people logged on to the message board and 284 people posted 619 messages. Most (64%) posted only one message. The posted messages were related most frequently to cancers of the breast, gastrointestinal system, lung, gynecologic system, head and neck, and colon. Sixty percent of the people posting messages were cancer survivors; the remaining 40% were family or friends of survivors. The most frequent query themes were concerns about treatment, support, and long-term side effects of treatment. Individuals with cancer were significantly more likely to post messages about long-term side effects of treatment than family and friends. Message boards are a useful tool for sharing information with others who have similar experiences. Message board entry data also provide valuable information that can be used to refine the boards. Message boards have not been used traditionally in healthcare research but hold considerable promise as an information resource for people affected by cancer.