Patients with cancer who discuss online health information with their physicians generally are seeking insight and advice about the data, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report reports (HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 5/25).
For the study, researchers analyzed questionnaires completed by 238 patients from three online cancer communities.
They focused on 145 survey respondents who reported that they had discussed online health information with their physician and who also provided additional information about such discussions.
When researchers asked the 145 survey respondents about why they discussed online health information with their doctors, they found that:
- 37% said they wanted to learn more about a condition or treatment;
- 19% said they sought their physician's opinion or advice about the online information;
- 13% said they wanted to manage their doctor's impression of them or be seen as an active patient;
- 13% said they sought to test their physician's knowledge or find out why their physician's advice differed from the online information; and
- 10% said they wanted to verify the accuracy of the online information (Canton Daily Ledger, 5/29).
According to the study, some patients who wanted to be seen as active participants in their care felt that physicians were unwilling to consider alternate treatment options.
Christina Sabee -- lead author of the study and associate professor of communication studies at San Francisco State University -- said such patients "may respond poorly to a stark criticism of their Internet research or a refusal to support certain options" (HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 5/25).
She added that doctors could better understand a patient's intentions by expressing appreciation for the patient's research and asking why the patient brought up the information (Canton Daily Ledger, 5/29).