The consumer-driven development and acceptability testing of a website designed to connect rural cancer patients and their families, carers and health professionals with appropriate information and psychosocial support

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Abstract

Websites offer new opportunities to provide health-related information to rural communities. However, how acceptable they are to this population is unknown. This paper describes the consumer-led development of a website that provides rural-specific information on psychosocial care for rural South Australians affected by cancer, and examines its acceptability to users. The Country Cancer Support website was developed with people affected by cancer living in rural South Australia (N = 11), using a Participatory Action Research Framework and evidence-based behaviour change strategies. There were 32,389 visits in the first 3 years. An online survey (N = 111) revealed that users found the website easy to use, helpful and relevant. Most rural cancer patients and supporters (98.11%) believed it had been written by people who understood what they were going through. Patients and supporters for whom it was relevant, reported feeling more motivated and confident in accessing psychosocial support services in their rural area (66.67%) and/or capital city (67.65%) and/or in travelling for medical treatment (75.86%). Many also felt less isolated (73.33%) and/or distressed (53.57%). All health professionals reported gaining new knowledge. This study shows that carefully designed websites can successfully address rural populations’ health information needs and increase intentions to access psychosocial support.

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