Communicating health decisions: an analysis of messages posted to online prostate cancer forums

Sillence, Elizabeth and Mo, Phoenix (2014) Communicating health decisions: an analysis of messages posted to online prostate cancer forums. Health Expectations, 17 (2). pp. 244-253. ISSN 1369-6513

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Experiential websites such as message forums and blogs allow Prostate Cancer (PCa) patients to communicate their health decisions to peers. The issues surrounding this form of indirect involvement in public health are little understood.

This paper explores the types of decision-making processes that people are exposed to on PCa online message boards. The kinds of treatment choices patients are making and the reports of their decision-making processes to peers through an online environment are examined in the context of the Heuristic Systematic Model.

Messages about treatment decision making were collected from four PCa websites. In total, 137 messages were selected from blogs and online forums and their decision-making processes coded.

Men looking online for information about treatment options for PCa are exposed to a range of decision-making processes. Just under half (49.6%) of the messages reported non-systematic decision processes, with deferral to the doctor and proof of cancer removal being the most common. For systematic processing (36.5%), messages most commonly considered treatment outcomes and side-effects. Processes did not vary between the blogs and online forums.

Discussion and conclusion 
Compared to previous studies far fewer messages reported non-systematic decision processes and only a small number of messages reflected lay beliefs or misbeliefs about PCa treatment. Implications for men and their clinicians of seeking health information online are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online before print 2 February 2012. Checking if it's a 12 or 24 month embargo required by publisher 24/02/15 BS Have confirmation that this is a science discipline journal so 12 month embargo applies 26/02/15 BS
Uncontrolled Keywords: decision making, internet, narratives, patient experience, prostate cancer
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
C800 Psychology
P100 Information Services
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2012 10:46
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 16:15

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