Loved ones of cancer patients are likely to search for further information about the disease online but less inclined to seek emotional support from social media forums, according to a University of Georgia College of Public Health study published recently in the journal Computers, Informatics, Nursing.
[Photo: Dr. Carolyn Lauckner]
Individuals frequently suffer negative psychological and emotional effects when the people they care about are diagnosed with cancer. It is fairly common for loved ones of cancer patients to develop depression or anxiety disorders as a result of the diagnosis, but there are not many studies focusing specifically on cancer patients’ caregivers and family members, said the study’s author, Dr. Carolyn Lauckner.
“I think sometimes the loved ones and caregivers get forgotten about,” she said. “And that’s why I wanted to research this population to see if there are ways that we can better support these individuals.”
Dr. Lauckner, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health’s department of health promotion and behavior, surveyed 191 people whose loved ones were diagnosed with cancer in the past year or who were currently acting as caregivers to someone with cancer.
More than three-quarters of participants searched online for information on a loved one’s disease. Most looked for treatment options, prevention strategies and risk factors, and prognosis information.
Respondents were less inclined to view blogs or go online to hear about others’ cancer experiences. These kinds of sites were linked to negative emotions for participants, such as fear, sadness and anger.