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Health care professional perceptions of online information and support for young people with cancer in the United Kingdom

Authors Lea S, Martins A, Morgan S, Cargill J, Taylor RM, Fern LA

Received 4 April 2019

Accepted for publication 5 August 2019

Published 29 August 2019 Volume 2019:10 Pages 103—116

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AHMT.S211142

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Nicola Ludin

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Alastair Sutcliffe


Sarah Lea,1 Ana Martins,1 Sue Morgan,2 Jamie Cargill,3 Rachel M Taylor,1 Lorna A Fern1

1Cancer Division, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK; 2Teenage Cancer Trust Unit, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK; 3TYA Cancer Service South West, Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Bristol, UK

Correspondence: Rachel M Taylor
Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, 1st Floor East, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 250 Euston Road, London NW1 2PG, UK
Tel +44 203 447 7700
Email rtaylor13@nhs.net

Purpose: The internet is integral to young people, providing round-the-clock access to information and support. Young people with cancer report searching for online information and support. What they search for and why varies across their timeline and is mainly driven by negative emotion. We sought to understand how health care professionals (HCPs) perceived online information and support for young people with cancer.
Population and methods: Semi-structured interviews with eight HCPs across the UK informed the development of a survey, completed by 38 HCPs. Framework analysis was used to identify key themes and the survey was analyzed descriptively.
Results: Seven themes emerged as integral to HCP’s perceptions of online information and support, these included: views about young people’s use of online resources; how needs change along the cancer timeline; different platforms where HCPs refer young people to online; whether young people’s online needs are currently met; recognition of the emotional relationship between young people and the internet; barriers and concerns when referring young people to online resources; and strategies used in practice.
Conclusion: Professionals play an important role in signposting young people to online resources, where they are confident about the accuracy and delivery of information. The biggest perceived barrier to facilitating online access was the cost to the NHS, and most concerning factor for HCPs was keeping young people safe online. There is a need to develop online resources specific for young people on psychosocial topics beyond treatment to support young people and HCPs through this period.

Keywords: communication, internet, teenager, young adult, adolescent, unmet needs, support, information, online


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