Supporting Cancer Patients through the Continuum of Care: A View from the Age of Social Networks and Computer Mediated Communication

Alejandro Jadad, Jacqueline L. Bender, Laura O’Grady


Almost since its inception the Internet has been used by laypersons to connect with peers, and to exchange health related-information and support. With the rapid development of software applications deliberately designed to facilitate social interaction, we are witnessing the dawn of a new era in which patients, and their loved ones can collaboratively build knowledge related to coping with illness, while meeting each others’ supportive care needs in a timely way, regardless of their location. In this article we present background information on the use of ‘one-to-one’ (e.g., email), one-to-many (e.g., chat rooms and listservs) and many-to-many (e.g., Web 2.0) computer-mediated communication to nurture health-related social networks and online supportive care.  We also discuss research that has investigated the use of social networks by patients, highlight opportunities for health professionals and describe new advances that are fueling this new era of collaboration during the management of cancer.

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)