11/04: ICT – Falyn Goldstein

In Norum et al.’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Oncology. Patients’ and Relatives’ Experiences and Suggestions, the usage of the internet for health communication is surveyed amongst cancer patients and relatives in the Norway area.

Recently, patients and relatives have been turning more toward the internet and towards communication technology for more information. To see how much value patients and relatives put in informants and on the internet, a survey questionnaire was sent out to 127 patients visiting the clinic at the University of Norway. In the past, patients let the doctors make medical decisions and diagnoses, however, patients are becoming more involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up processes. It was found that support groups for cancer patients and relatives provided comfort for some and “phone therapy” was also beneficial, as it can minimize the risk of social isolation. After the survey was sent out with both qualitative and quantitative questions, it was found that patients and relatives rated informants equally: doctors, nurses, and friends respectively. Women typically considered friends a more important source of information than men did, and less educated patients/relatives valued friends more as well than other informants. 

Focusing more on the technologies, it was found that 61% of participants had access to the internet. Less than ⅓ of participants had searched for health information and 50% reported that the internet had no influence on their communication with a doctor. The biggest point of concern for internet users was privacy. People expressed concern about intruders gaining access to their personal medical records. All in all, people are using the internet and communication technologies way more frequently than before and 69% of participants agreed that the internet improved their knowledge about cancer. I am curious to see the results of this study if conducted on a larger scale, as it was mainly isolated in Norway.

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