Online Cancer Support Groups: A Review of the Research Literature

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This article explores current research on online cancer support groups. A review of the literature revealed 9 research articles (describing 10 research studies) that focused on computer-mediated or Internet cancer support groups. The researchers in 9 of the 10 studies concluded that online cancer support groups helped people cope more effectively with their disease. Most of the research studies had small sample sizes. Six of the 10 studies did not include men, and six focused on Caucasian women with breast cancer. Information seeking/giving was prevalent in the online groups. Gender differences, negative psychological effects, and barriers to using online groups were identified. The few studies that were found in the literature suffered from a lack of experimental design, small and homogenous samples, and lack of outcome measures, thereby limiting applicability of results.

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