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The Meaning of Web-Based Communication for Support: From the Patients Perspective Within a Hematological Healthcare Setting

Högberg, Karin M. PhD(c), RN; Stockelberg, Dick MD, PhD; Sandman, Lars PhD; Broström, Anders PhD; Nyström, Maria PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000145

Background: Being critically ill with a hematological disease is a challenge, sometimes causing a need for support in the adjustment to the stressful life situation. By providing Web-based communication for support from a nurse, patients get access to an alternative and untraditional way to communicate their issues.

Objective: The aim was to describe the meaning of using Web-based communication for support from a patient perspective.

Methods: A comprehensive randomized pilot study (n = 30) was conducted, allowing 15 patients in the experimental group to have access to the Web-based communication, to evaluate feasibility. Of these 15 participants, 10 were interviewed, focusing on their experiences. An empirical hermeneutical approach was used and the interpretive analysis focused on the meanings.

Results: Web-based communication for support means a space for patients to have their say, consolidation of a matter, an extended caring relationship, access to individual medical assessment, and an opportunity for emotional processing. The main interpretation indicates that the patient’s influence on the communication strengthens according to the asynchronous, faceless, and written communication. The increased, and in some sense constant, access to an individual medical and caring assessment, in turn, implies a feeling of safety.

Conclusion: Web-based communication for support seems to have the potential to enhance patients’ participation on their own terms.

Implications for Practice: To achieve the possible advantages of Web-based communication for support, nurses must acquire knowledge about caring writing. It requires respect for the patient and articulated accuracy and attention in the response given.

Author Affiliations: School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University (Drs Högberg and Broström); School of Health Sciences, University of Borås (Ms Högberg, and Drs Sandman and Nyström); Section for Hematology and Coagulation, Department of Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden (Dr Stockelberg).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Karin M. Högberg, PhD(c), RN, Allégatan 1, 501 90 Borås, Sweden (

Accepted for publication February 15, 2014.

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