Patterns of Internet-based health information seeking in adult survivors of childhood cancer

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2018 May;65(5):e26954. doi: 10.1002/pbc.26954. Epub 2018 Jan 19.


Background: To assess where, when, and why survivors of childhood cancer seek health information.

Procedure: Data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) cohort (n = 1386) and Health Information National Trends Survey (n = 2385) were analyzed to determine the health information seeking strategies of childhood cancer survivors. Descriptive frequencies, χ2 analyses, t-tests, and multivariable logistic regression models were used.

Results: To seek health-related information for themselves, 54% (n = 742) of the childhood survivors reported using the Internet in the past 12 months, compared to 45% of the general population (adjusted OR: 2.76; 95% CI: 2.40-3.19). Childhood cancer survivors who used the Internet for health information were more likely to be female, between the ages of 18-34, have received some college education or be a college graduate, and report being in poor health. Although survivors were less likely than the general population to trust health information from the Internet (P < 0.01), they indicated that they would like a secure website that uses information from their medical records to provide individualized health-related information.

Conclusion: The use of the Internet to access health information among the childhood cancer survivors was over 50%. Information on late effects was a high priority for most survivors, as was their interest in websites related to late effects and a website on patient information tailored to personal situations. Identification of factors associated with searching the Internet for cancer information may provide direction for development of effective cancer communication interventions for this at-risk population.

Keywords: Internet; childhood cancer; health information; late effects; survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult