244924 Internet and social media use by patients in a comprehensive cancer center

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 11:10 AM

Lisa Smith, MPH & MSW , The Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Matthias Kirch, MS , The Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Patricia Clark, PhD(c), RN , University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Karen Hammelef, MS , University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Marcy Waldinger, MHSA , University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Lawrence C. An, MD , The Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background: Internet searches for health information are increasingly popular with American adults; 80% of Americans with Internet access search for health information. The use of social sites (Facebook or Twitter) doubled in those > age 50 in 2010. Understanding these media outlets could help improve information for cancer patients. The purpose of this study was to learn how cancer patients find and use information on cancer. Methods: We surveyed adult cancer patients (n = 1282) at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2010 (response rate=75%). This pen and paper survey took 15 minutes to complete and assessed use of computers, Internet, social media, and their usefulness. Results: Our study shows that 88% of patients reported using the Internet; 93% of Internet users have broadband Internet access. Rates of Internet use were similar across diagnoses: breast cancer 91%, prostate cancer 86%, leukemia 88%. Young age and formal education were related to higher rates of Internet use. A substantial proportion of online patients (47%) reported using social media sites (44% Facebook, 5% MySpace, 4% Twitter). Most were relatively new users of social media (50% began in the past 2 years). Overall, 82% of patients reported that the Internet was useful or very useful in finding information about cancer. Only 30% of patients reported social media was a useful source of cancer information. Discussion: There may be great opportunity to increase the usefulness of online cancer information, especially via online social media channels. Future work could assess Internet and social media use by patients in a wider range of settings or in population-based samples of cancer patients.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe cancer center patientsí experience with and perceived usefulness of computers, Internet and social media. 2. Compare cancer center patientsí use of computers, Internet and social media to their information needs and social support. 3. Compare cancer center patientsí information needs and social support with their reported quality of life.

Keywords: Communication Evaluation, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am the director of the Center for Health Communications Research at the University of Michigan and directed this specific research project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.