Psychologists Seek to Improve Online Health Information for Lung Cancer

Psychologists Seek to Improve Online Health Information for Lung Cancer

Results from recent research conducted by PhD student Julia Mueller from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at The University of Manchester were presented during the British Psychological Society’s 2015 Annual Conference, which took place last week in Liverpool, England. The research results revealed that family members of patients with lung cancer are more likely to do an online search to motivate their loved ones to seek help. Based on these results, psychologists are looking to improve online health information on lung cancer.

Julia Mueller said according to a recent news release: “People displaying symptoms of lung cancer often don’t seek medical diagnosis for several months, which can affect their recovery or even their survival. Online health information could be a key factor influencing their decision to seek medical help. This study explored whether those with suspected lung cancer researched symptoms online prior to diagnosis and if this impacted on help-seeking behaviour.”

In the study, total of 120 patients with a recent lung cancer diagnosis were asked to fill out questionnaires. Of these, 24 patients were invited for interviews. Findings showed that 2% of the patients said they did online search regarding their condition, in contrast with 18% who reported that their relatives had done this on their behalf. Results also revealed that patients’ relatives used the online information to motivate patients to seek medical help and diagnosis. Access to online information was that most encountered problem.

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Julia Mueller said in a news release: “Our findings highlight the importance of relatives in triggering help-seeking for lung cancer symptoms and that online information contributes to this process. Being able to easily access appropriate information online could be crucial in getting people to the doctor earlier — which will improve recovery and survival rates.”

“We plan to develop and evaluate a website that will provide information for those experiencing lung cancer symptoms that have not gone to their doctor for a diagnosis. This will involve tailoring information to the individuals own circumstances, such as age and gender, and whether they are searching for themselves or behalf of someone else,” she concluded.

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