Information about the management and treatment of cancer on the Internet is proliferating at a rapid rate, but how good is this resource at providing useful information for patients?
In the October issue of Nature Reviews Cancer, Kasisomayajula Viswanath explores the role of the Internet and other forms of mass media in helping to raise awareness of cancer prevention and treatment that can shape what people know and do about cancer. Type the phrase 'cancer treatment' into an Internet search engine and you will get around 15 million hits. But the quality of this information is variable and access to this advice is dictated by social factors, such as income, education and ethnicity.
We know that well-funded, planned and coordinated media campaigns, such as those aimed at cancer prevention or cancer screening, give us the skills, knowledge and confidence to change our lifestyles for the better, says Viswanath. Online information has the benefits of providing the reach of a mass medium with the intimacy of a one-to-one telephone conversation, but we need to close the gap between the information 'haves' and 'have-nots' to make this truly effective.
Author contact details:
Kasisomayajula Viswanath (Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Reviews Cancer press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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