An exploratory study of the use of blogs as a means of communication for breast cancer patients

Shu Chen Kuo, Hsieh Hua Yang, Yi Chun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: The use of blogs as a means of internet communication is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Cancer patient-centered blogs have become an emerging and novel topic for health researchers to study. With in-depth interviews and participant observation, this preliminary study explored the impact of blog usage on the illness experiences of patients with breast cancer. Methods: In-depth interviews were held with 15 breast cancer bloggers from the Cancer Patient Reunion blog, a medium for meeting other breast cancer patients. Results: In order to confront their disease and stay socially connected, breast cancer patients were motivated to create the blog. The blog provided personal experiences of breast cancer treatment and related health information, served as a type of emotional catharsis and social support, and helped the participants reflect on the meaning of life. Personal experiences of the treatment process provided crucial health information for other patients with breast cancer. By writing blogs, breast cancer patients could comfort each other and alleviate the social isolation due to the illness. Nonetheless, it seemed that the illness narratives were still influenced by social/cultural regulation and ideology, and the treatments described were based mainly on Western medicine. In addition, few death-related topics were discussed on the blog. Conclusions: From the blog content, health care professionals should be able to understand the medical information needs and the psychosocial responses of cancer patients, and thus provide proper health care and social interventions based on the different stages of disease. Furthermore, based on analysis of blog content, appropriate government units can develop good medical and health information policies, create user-friendly websites, and provide updated medical information to help breast cancer patients communicate and interact with each other. (Taiwan J Public Health. 2014;33(6):621-636).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-636
Number of pages16
JournalTaiwan Journal of Public Health
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Keywords

  • Blog
  • Breast cancer
  • Illness experience
  • Internet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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