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
|Contact: Shaun Mason|
University of California - Los Angeles