Online cancer support: What the consumer has to say

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Virginia Tech


Although the research on the effects of cancer on the patient and its impact on the family system, as well as on the benefits of support groups for this population is abundant, there is relatively little research that examines the benefits of online cancer support groups, the meaning that users attribute to giving and receiving support, and the effects of use on the user's significant other. Using the theoretical frameworks of phenomenology, and Social Interactionism online surveys were conducted with seven individuals who considered themselves active members of the online Cancer Survivors Network, were all diagnosed with cancer and living with a significant other. These surveys were coded for themes using Thematic Analysis. The main themes identified included: feeling normal, belonging to a community, hope, honest and open place to talk about fears, feelings and possibility of death, that experiencing and recovering or dealing with cancer is a process, gaining understanding, acceptance and support, as well as information, a better sense of well-being related to hope and humor, and feeling helpful. The themes that emerged when looking at the partner relationships were: feelings of jealousy, and sharing the online community with their partner. Implications for clinical practice and suggestions for future research are included.



giving and receiving support, internet, online cancer support, support group