Reducing the digital divide for low-income women with breast cancer: a feasibility study of a population-based intervention

J Health Commun. 2005;10 Suppl 1:173-93. doi: 10.1080/10810730500263281.


A fundamental challenge to helping underserved women and their families cope with breast cancer is providing them with easily accessible, reliable health care information and support. This is especially true for low-income families living in rural areas where resources are few and frequently distant as well as low-income families in urban areas where access to information and support can be complex and overwhelming. The Internet is one mechanism that has tremendous potential to help these families cope with breast cancer. This article describes a feasibility test of the potential for the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service (CIS) to provide access to an Internet-based system that has been shown to improve quality of life for underserved breast cancer patients. The test was conducted in rural Wisconsin (low socioeconomic status [SES] Caucasian women) and in Detroit, Michigan (low SES African American women), and compares the effectiveness of several different dissemination strategies. Using these results we propose a model for how CIS telephone and partnership program services could efficiently disseminate such information and support systems. In doing so we believe that important steps can be taken to close the digital divide that separates low-income families from the resources they need to effectively face cancer. This is the first of two articles coming from this study. A companion article reports on an evaluation of the use and impact of this system on the women who were given access to it.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Services / organization & administration*
  • Internet
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Michigan
  • Poverty*
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population
  • Wisconsin