Examining eHealth use as a coping strategy for cancer-adjustment: An application of the Chronic Illness Model

Lisa Beatty, Karen Scott

Abstract


Background: The internet is increasingly used as a coping strategy by cancer patients for information and support (‘eHealth’), however its association with distress remains unclear. This cross-sectional study investigated whether eHealth use mediates the relationship between illness perceptions, social support, and distress.
Methods: Adult heterogeneous cancer patients (n=88) completed a self-report battery of measures. Demographic, medical and psychosocial differences between eHealth users (n=50) and non-users (n=38) were analysed, and hierarchical multiple regressions were then used to test for mediations.
Results: Compared to non-users, eHealth users were significantly younger, more highly educated and more likely to be employed. eHealth users had more negative perceived consequences resulting from their illness than non-users, but did not differ in levels of distress or social support. eHealth use was significantly positively related to three types of illness perceptions (consequences, identity, and psychological causes), and with distress, thus meeting the criteria for mediation testing. However, in multivariate mediation testing, eHealth use was not a significant mediator of the relationship between these variables.
Conclusions: While eHealth use was related to illness perceptions and distress, its role as a mediator was not supported. A longitudinal evaluation of eHealth use as a coping strategy is recommended.

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Keywords

Cancer; internet; information; support; adjustment; chronic illness model



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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology