December 12, 2016 – Cancer patients take comfort in peer stories on online forums
When faced with potentially life-threatening diseases such as cancer, people often seek information about the disease and support from peers.
The best resources involve personal stories from other cancer patients that are posted on online forums and scientific websites, which provide comfort during these stressful times, according to a newly published study.
Television entertainment shows and medical dramas, however, can leave people feeling fearful and concerned because the storylines can be suspenseful to hold viewers’ attention, the researchers said.
“We tend to worry about whether information found on the internet is reliable, but people look for more than just information. They are comforted and feel supported by the stories and reactions from people who are going through the same ordeal,” said study co-author Jan Van den Bulck, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan.
The study is published online in the Journal of Cancer Education. Van den Bulck collaborated on the research with Sara Nelissen and Kathleen Bellens of the University of Leuven in Belgium.