Globally, cancer patients obtain much of their disease information online. Online health communities allow patients to share questions and information about diseases. However, there have been few studies on the factors affecting online health community participation behavior in cancer patients. Online social networking is associated with mental health problems, and patients with thyroid cancer experience high levels of distress, anxiety and depression. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors associated with use of online health communities by patients with thyroid cancer to understand the characteristics of patients participating in such online communities. A questionnaire survey was completed by 114 thyroid cancer patients admitted for surgery at a general hospital in Seoul, Korea. General characteristics, clinical characteristics, attitude toward cancer, distress, and anxiety and depression scores of patients who joined an online health community (user group) and patients who did not (non-user group) were compared. The factors affecting online health community participation were education (p = 0.049), tumor size (p = 0.010), attitude toward cancer (p = 0.022), and anxiety and depression (p = 0.021). The average score of satisfaction with the online health community was 4.25 of 5. The user group had larger tumors, a high awareness of the risk of thyroid cancer, and high levels of anxiety and depression. Patients who actively used the online health community have relatively larger cancer size and had higher levels of mental stress. As such patients are often very anxious and depend heavily on the gathered information, the quality of this information is important. Healthcare professionals need to develop appropriate interventions for patients participating in the online health community.
|Publication status||Published - 2020 Jun|
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© 2020 Park et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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