Cancer treatment normally involves not only physical interventions but also psychological support. Many people do not die from the tumor itself, but feelings of endless fear and desperation.
Living in an era of information and technology, easy access to the Internet enables people to find virtual friends from different corners of the world. This makes a difference among cancer patients who can communicate all cancer treatment-related issues and distress with other patients.
“If you have ten negative ideas, your peers will provide you eleven cheering-for-life inspirations.” Internet-based peer interaction is increasingly becoming a part of cancer patients’ daily routine.
A research team from the Netherlands conducted a systematic review of internet-based support programs to reduce psychosocial and physical symptoms in cancer patients.
They analyzed sixteen eligible studies and found that nine indicated positive effects of internet-based support programs. These positive functions focused on fatigue reduction, social support, and distress relief.
The support programs included were divided into social support groups, online therapy for psychosocial/physical symptoms, and online systems integrating information, support, and coaching services.
The researchers of the study found that all online systems showed positive effects, mainly for social support and quality of life, among which online systems gathering multiple services worked best.
The study concluded the effectiveness of Internet-based peer support.
There is an increasing demand for internet-based peer support services in recent years and patients show great interest in internet-based cancer‐related services.
About 70 percent of patients and caregivers showed a tendency to use internet-based healthcare services in a study. These services include treatment-related information delivery, support group, physician-based conversations.
Cancer treatment is going towards an era of “to cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always”. Cancer patients help and support each other via online programs like Facebook support groups, and more and more physicians begin to provide online consulting services.