Navigation Links
Chronicling cancer experience online can reduce depressive symptoms in breast cancer patients

Adults increasingly are conveying their personal experiences with serious disease online, but do such chronicles help the authors or their audience?

In the first known study of its kind, UCLA researchers discovered that creating a personal website to chronicle the cancer experience and communicate with one's social network can reduce depressive symptoms, increase positive mood and enhance appreciation for life among women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The study, published online Aug. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (and scheduled for print publication at a later date), was led by Annette Stanton, a member of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences.

"From our own and others' previous research, we know that expressing emotions surrounding the experience and gaining social support can be helpful for people diagnosed with cancer, and we know that interpersonal interventions can be useful," Stanton said.

However, most interpersonal interventions to promote quality of life in adults diagnosed with cancer involve the patient's partner, primary caregiver or other cancer patients.

"Our goal in this research was to provide a platform on which breast cancer patients could reflect on their experiences, as well as communicate with and leverage support from their existing social networks, especially friends and family," Stanton said. "The idea for this trial really took off when I met two sisters who had created personal websites for each other when each was diagnosed with cancer."

In Project Connect Online (PCO), a randomized trial conducted with 88 breast cancer patients between the ages of 28 and 76, participants were assigned either to a three-hour workshop led by Stanton and her colleagues in which the women created personal websites or to a control group that did not create websites. (Women in the control group were offered the workshop six months later, after the experimental data had been collected.) All participants in the study completed a standard survey assessing their psychological status before being assigned to their group and again six months later.

The PCO group was broken down into smaller groups of three to four women for workshops. In each workshop, the women learned about the potential uses of personal websites, such as expressing emotions related to cancer, providing medical status updates and letting others know what would be helpful. They also proactively considered common concerns of website authors, including the pressure to be positive or eloquent. They then engaged in hands-on website creation and by the end of the three-hour session had written their first posts.

"We worked closely with a website developer so participants had several choices for how their sites looked, but all sites had the same functions," Stanton said. "It was inspiring to see women of so wide an age range and of such varied computer experience develop their websites in just a few hours."

The women assigned to the PCO group found that their websites were particularly valuable for telling the stories of their cancer experiences, expressing emotions and reducing how much information they had to repeat for family and friends. Visitors to the websites found them useful for providing updates on the authors' health and for helping visitors feel emotionally close to the authors.

The women in the PCO group demonstrated statistically significant improvement in depressive symptoms, positive mood and life appreciation, the researchers found. The effects were particularly strong for women in active medical treatment, most of whom had advanced (metastatic) disease.

Women are more often motivated to tell their stories, express cancer-related emotions, garner support and keep others informed during active medical treatment and the often unpredictable course of metastatic disease than they are once they have completed their cancer treatments, the authors said.

"We are encouraged by these positive findings," Stanton said, "especially for cancer survivors with the most need those in active medical treatment or with more advanced disease. Our next step is to gain support for a larger test of Project Connect Online."


Contact: Shaun Mason
University of California - Los Angeles

Related medicine news :

1. Chronicling pink slimes fall from grace
2. Study Suggests Vaccine May Help Kids With Brain Cancer
3. New Stool Test Might Aid in Early Detection of Colon Cancer
4. Study reveals how cancer drug causes diabetic-like state
5. How a cancer drug leads to diabetes
6. You Survived Cancer: Now Pay Attention to Your Overall Health
7. New drug prevents spread of human prostate cancer cells
8. Eliminating the good cholesterol receptor may fight breast cancer
9. Taller, Heavier Women May Face Higher Ovarian Cancer Risk
10. Experimental Chemo Combo for Colon Cancer Disappoints
11. Veggies Like Broccoli, Cabbage May Help Fight Breast Cancer: Study
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to ... came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... offering micro-osteoperforation for accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all ... brackets , AcceleDent, and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Topical BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway ... call for a minimum wage raise to $12 an hour by 2020 and then adjusting ... restore the lost value of the minimum wage, assure the wage floor does not erode ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... EB Medicine presented its ... Emergency Medicine conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. The awards honor the outstanding ... Medicine Practice and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Practice. , “With this award, we ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Puradigm® & Innovative Solutions ... initiated cultivation and processing operations at its production facility, and opened its first ... is the manufacturer of a complete system of proactive air and surface purification ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 The Academy of ... recommendations that would allow biopharmaceutical companies to ... entities that make formulary and coverage decisions, a move ... of new medicines. The recommendations address restrictions ... appear on the drug label, a prohibition that hinders ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- According to a new market research ... Safety Pen Needles), Needle Length (4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, ... Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) - Trends & Global Forecasts to ... for the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. This ... 2021 from USD 1.65 Billion in 2016, growing at ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  MedSource announced today that it ... software solution of choice.  This latest decision demonstrates ... to their clients by offering a state-of-the-art electronic ... establishes nowEDC as the EDC platform of choice ... clients.  "nowEDC has long been a preferred EDC ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: