Late Effects of Treatment for Long-term Cancer Survivors: Qualitative Analysis of an Online Support Group

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Abstract

Ten million cancer survivors in the United States are at increased risk for developing late effects of treatment. Due to a lack of consistent follow-up care, many long-term cancer survivors use the Internet as a source of information and support. Research on online support for this cohort is lacking. The purposes of this study were to identify major themes related to long-term cancer survivorship and report late effects of treatment as described by members of an online support group. A qualitative descriptive method was utilized. Seventy-five long-term cancer survivors posted 300 messages online during an 8-week period and reported a wide variety of late effects. Three categorical schemes were identified: information exchange, symptomatology, and frustration with healthcare providers. Cancer survivors are utilizing Internet resources to find health-related information and support that has not been provided by healthcare providers. Additional research is needed to generate knowledge about the role of online support for long-term cancer survivors.

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