5_How the Internet Affects Patients' Experience of Cancer - Ziebland

5_How the Internet Affects Patients' Experience of Cancer - Ziebland

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lack of familiarity or of access were the main explanations people volunteered when asked if they had sought internet information. Use of the internet by patients Until recently articles in medical journals about the internet have focused on concerns about the quality of health information. 2 Some of our respondents voiced concerns about the difficulty of distinguishing between good and bad information on the web, but it is notable that they only expressed this concern for other, less wary people. In reporting their own internet use, they displayed considerable caution and competence and described techniques (such as comparing different information sources) to ensure that they were not misled. The main contribution of this study is to show the many dif- ferent ways in which the internet seems to be used by people with a serious illness, at all stages of their illness and follow up. We have also shown how patients’ ability to become expert in their own condition may contribute to changes in relationships between patients and doctors. Patients who are concerned about the effects of cost constraints on health care (concerns that pre- date the widespread use of the internet) are able to use the web to seek reassurance about their treatment. Patients also want to know more about complementary approaches to treatment, but, as others have shown, may be anxious not to jeopardise their relationship with their doctors by revealing their interest in self treatment. 20 21 As Jadad and colleagues recently suggested, “It will take time and effort to reach the point where the assertive patient is recognised as the ‘good’ one. Ignorance, fear, inertia, and stubbornness remain to be overcome.” 18 The desire to canvass an informal (and therefore face saving) second opinion will be familiar to all who have ever sought supplementary infor-
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