Study co-author Elizabeth Gage, professor of community health and health behavior in the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, said despite the accessibility of online medical information, parents not only distrusted information found through the Internet, they often feared what types of information they might encounter.
"They didn't want to run into stories about 'the worst case scenario,'" Gage said in a statement. "One of the reasons we were interested in exploring this issue is that so much research and media coverage had examined how the Internet was breaking down barriers between patients and caregivers and their physicians. But that wasn't that case in our study."
Perhaps because of the severity of the diagnosis, parents and caregivers preferred to receive their information from sources other than the Internet, Gage said.
Gage and Christina Panagakis, a graduate student in sociology at the University at Buffalo, and colleagues at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, interviewed 41 parents of pediatric cancer patients to learn how caregivers use the Internet as an information source about their child's illness, prognosis and potential treatment options.
The findings are scheduled to the published in the May issue of Sociology of Health and Illness.