Internet and SM provide important information and support to cancer patients. Evaluating age-related differences on how patients use these resources is important as it can impact decision-making. Here, we evaluated associations between patients’ age, confidence in computer-use, and use of Internet/SM for cancer care.
Cancer patients completed a cross-sectional survey of cancer-related SM/Internet use and self-confidence using these resources. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated factors associated with Internet/SM use.
Among 320 patients, 127 were AYA (age 18-39), 127 were adult (40-64) and 66 were elderly (65+). Most (>95%) had a smartphone/tablet/computer and used the Internet daily. Compared to AYA, non-AYA were less likely (P < 0.001) to own a data plan (77% vs 92%), have a SM account (72% vs 95%) or feel confident using computers (76% vs 98%). 75% used Internet and 43% used SM for cancer care information and support; 37% felt confident using online information for decision-making. AYA were more likely than non-AYA to use the Internet (aOR = 1.60, 95%CI [0.93-2.81], P = 0.09) and SM (aOR = 1.75 [1.04-2.95], P = 0.04) for cancer care. Adults were more likely than elderly patients to use the internet for cancer care (aOR = 3.10 [1.56-6.25], P = 0.001), while no difference was seen in their SM use for cancer care (P = 0.79). Confident computer users were more likely to use Internet (aOR = 5.36 [2.67-11.00], P < 0.001) and SM (aOR = 4.61 [1.98-12.14], P < 0.001) for cancer care and were more confident using this information in decision-making (aOR = 5.12 [1.92-17.81], P < 0.001). Age was not associated with self-confidence using online information for decision-making (P > 0.10).
Despite higher use of internet/SM for cancer care, AYA did not feel more self-confident evaluating online cancer information. Confidence in computer use was associated internet/SM usage and confidence evaluating online information. Patient education programs should focus on improving patients’ confidence in using online resources so they can better evaluate online information for cancer care.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre - University Health Network.
Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.