Internet use among head and neck cancer survivors in the North West of England

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012 Apr;50(3):208-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2011.03.264. Epub 2011 May 18.


In general, use of the internet by patients in their healthcare is increasing. However, its use specifically among those with head and neck cancer in the UK has not been reported. The aims of this study were to report access to the internet by survivors of head and neck cancer, to indicate where it fits within their information sources, how they have used it, and how they might use it in future. A question on its use has been included in annual surveys of patients since 2006. Patient-reported access to the internet increased from 32% in 2006 to 54% in 2010. There were considerable differences in access by age; currently (2010) 83% of those under 55 years, and 40% of those aged 65-84 years. Binary logistic regression modelling involving age at survey (p<0.001), age leaving education (p<0.001), and sex (p=0.01), gave all three as independent predictors of access. In the 2010 survey 49% (234/473) never used the internet, 10% (49/473) used it rarely, 15% (70/473) used it occasionally, and 25% (120/473) used it often. The main reasons for its use for head and neck cancer were to find information, learn about treatment, side effects, and medication, and obtain advice from members of multidisciplinary teams. The findings of this study show that the internet has an important role for patients in providing information and support about their cancer, although other sources are still very important. Data from the study will help inform those promoting e-health about the type of resource that is wanted by patients.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Consumer Health Information
  • Counseling
  • Educational Status
  • England
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Information Services
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Sex Factors
  • Survivors*