Study: Patients’ Online Communication Could Help with Treatment Decision Making | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Study: Patients’ Online Communication Could Help with Treatment Decision Making

August 1, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Online communication could be used to enhance cancer treatment decision making and care support, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Indeed, women who engaged on social media after a breast cancer diagnosis expressed more deliberation about their treatment decision and more satisfaction with the path they chose. However, little is known about whether and how patients with newly diagnosed cancer use these technologies during the treatment decision process and even less is known about whether online communication use influences patient appraisals of decision making, according to the study, published in JAMA Oncology.

For the study, researchers surveyed 2,460 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer about their use of email, texting, social media and web-based support groups following their diagnosis. Overall, 41 percent of women reported some or frequent use of online communication. Texting and email were most common, with 35 percent of women using it. Twelve percent of women reported using Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites, and 12 percent used web-based support groups.

What’s more, online communication was more common in younger women and those with more education. Use also varied by race, with 46 percent of white women and 43 percent of Asian women reporting frequent use, compared to 35 percent of black women and 33 percent of Latinas.

The researchers also found that women who frequently used online communication had more positive feelings about their treatment decision. They were more likely to report a deliberate decision and more likely to be highly satisfied with their decision.

"Our findings highlight an unmet need in patients for decisional support when they are going through breast cancer treatment," study author Lauren P. Wallner, Ph.D., assistant professor of general medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said. "But at this point, leveraging social media and online communication in clinical practice is not going to reach all patients. There are barriers that need to be considered," she added.

Wallner additionally noted, “Women reported separate reasons for using each of these modalities. Email and texting were primarily to let people know they had been diagnosed. They tended to use social media sites and web-based support groups to interact about treatment options and physician recommendations.”

Topics

News

NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.