A nontraditional cancer support group. The Internet.
Klemm P. Reppert K. Visich L.
The benefits of cancer support groups (CSGs) have been well documented. Recently, several nontraditional CSGs have been used, including Internet CSGs (ICSGs). The purpose of this study was to describe categories or themes of information shared on an Internet cancer support group (ICSG), determine how many people used the list, and how frequently they posted on it. Content analysis of 300 messages posted on an ICSG were analyzed and eight categories of responses were identified: (1) information giving/seeking; (2) personal opinions; (3) encouragement/support; (4) personal experience; (5) thanks; (6) humor; (7) prayer; and (8) miscellaneous. Forty million American homes will have Internet access in the near future, making electronic cancer support groups available to vast numbers of people. The ICSG is a means of offering support to cancer patients, their families, and caretakers in a nontraditional format. Nurses should be versed in the use of Internet resources and the advantages (eg, 24-hour availability, accessibility to the homebound) and disadvantages (eg, cost of Internet access, lack of a professional facilitator) for ICSGs.