A team of researchers in health sciences and computing from the University of Manchester is developing a study funded by The Medical Research Council, seeking to improve the quality and precision of information available online concerning lung cancer, aimed at patients that search for help in diagnosing the disease on the Internet.
The study will recruit 100 patients from the North West of England, and will assess what information is currently available online about lung cancer. The team will interview patients diagnosed with lung cancer in the last six months to understand what health information systems they use after having symptoms, and what influences their decision to see a doctor.
Another parameter analyzed will be the type of information available when people search for symptomatic terms such as nagging cough, tiredness, or weight loss.
Chief investigator Julia Mueller from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Manchester reported that compared to breast cancer, lung cancer survival rates are still very low, partly because patients wait a long time before seeing a doctor.
The outcome of this study will help to understand the online behavior of people suffering from lung cancer while at the same time optimizing search engines and improving the available information found on websites regarding lung cancer, so that patients researching symptoms about their disease can be directed to the right sites.
Every year in the UK, around 41,000 people are affected by lung cancer, with the disease’s low survival rates partly being attributed to the late recognition of symptoms and/or late treatment.