Cancer survival affects online support

Nov. 22, 2008 at 1:17 AM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Online support sites for high survival rate cancers have more emotional support content than sites for low survival rate cancers, U.S. researchers said.

Study leader Lorraine Buis, a post-doctoral research fellow at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, assessed differences in emotional and informational social support content in online communities for cancers with high and low survival rates.

The researchers found that, overall, emotional support was more prevalent than informational support across all communities and all types of cancers.

The researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System also found that support communities for low survival rate cancers contain a greater amount of informational support content than online support communities for high survival rate cancers.

"Online communities have become an important resource for individuals seeking emotional and informational social support related to cancer," senior author Dr. Caroline Richardson of the University of Michigan Health System said in a statement.

Both emotional and informational support are widely available within online communities for cancer, but not all of the sites are created equally, Buis noted.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group.

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