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Online Social Support Received by Patients With Cancer


CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing: March 2014 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 118–126
doi: 10.1097/CIN.0000000000000028
Feature Article

Patient education in the public healthcare system does not necessarily meet the needs of patients with cancer. Because of this, they may turn to the Internet, or they are guided to electronic sources of social support. The purposes of this study were to describe what kind of social support patients with cancer receive from the Internet and its meaning for them. The data were collected using an online survey that consisted of open-ended questions based on a theory of online social support. The data were analyzed using an inductive content analysis. Online social support consisted of three categories: disease-related information from reliable sources, supportive interaction enhancing positive emotions, and practical tips for daily life with cancer. Three major categories related to the meaning of online social support were identified: peers helping make life easier, empowerment, and inadequate support. The findings can be utilized in tailoring educational interventions for patients with cancer. In the future, the long-lasting effects of online social support need to be examined.

Author Affiliations: School of Health Sciences, Nursing Science, University of Tampere (Ms Yli-Uotila and Drs Rantanen and Suominen); and Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Science Center (Dr Rantanen), Finland.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Corresponding author: Tiina Yli-Uotila, MNSc, School of Health Sciences, Nursing Science, 33014 University of Tampere, Finland (

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.