Parents of Children With Cancer Wary of Online Health Information
Study found they had concerns about accuracy, fears of 'worst-case scenarios'
THURSDAY, April 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Parents of children with cancer often distrust online information about their child's illness and also fear what kind of information they might find, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., interviewed 41 parents of pediatric cancer patients to find out how they use the Internet to learn more about their child's illness and treatment options.
"Respondents were telling us they were uncertain of the information online and that they were afraid of the unknown. They didn't want to run into stories about 'the worst-case scenario,'" study co-author Elizabeth Gage, a professor of community health and health behavior in the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, said in a university news release.
Gage and her colleagues also found that parents in the study often were overwhelmed by conflicting sources of online information.
"Families in our study did not know where to begin or how to sift through such a huge mound of information," she said.
As a result, the parents tended to restrict their online searches to what they considered more credible sources, such as medical journals and hospital libraries.
"A lot of families used the Internet to establish connections with other families in a similar situation, as much for emotional support as for reasons to share medical information," Gage said. "However, many families ascribed a certain expert status upon these individuals, almost elevating the experience of what they call 'the veterans' to the same level as that of a trusted hospital-based site."
The study appears in the May issue of the journal Sociology of Health and Illness.
The American Cancer Society explains how to deal with a diagnosis of cancer in children.