The quality of cancer-related online resources: intentions to continue to use and psychological outcomes for cancer-affected people
Cancer-affected people use the Internet to obtain emotional support and information about cancer via interactive (e.g., online communities) and non-interactive (e.g., podcasts) online resources. Non-profit cancer organisations aim to reduce the impact of cancer for cancer-affected people by ensuring that their programs, information and services reach those in need of support. Non-profit cancer organisations use healthcare practitioners and designers to provide content for their online resources. Cancer-affected people use this content to make decisions about cancer treatment and how to deal with the effects of treatment (physical and mental). Cancer-affected people are also looking for support and connections with others in similar situations. However, cancer-affected people need to judge which online resources are credible and meet their needs. Although previous research has examined the quality indicators of online resources from the perspective of medical practitioners and designers, there is still a lack of understanding about what features indicate the quality of online cancer communities and cancer podcasts from the perception of those for whom they are intended, i.e., cancer-affected individuals. Non-profit cancer organisations need to understand why cancer-affected people continue to use their resources and what impact their resources have on psychosocial outcomes to better target their scarce resources. This study focuses on this gap and the relationships between perceived quality and intentions to continue to use online resources and psychosocial outcomes.
This thesis consists of three interrelated papers. Paper 1 uses an exploratory research design and develops a conceptual framework to identify factors indicating the quality of online cancer communities and podcasts from the perspective of cancer-affected people. The conceptual framework on the quality indicators was developed from the literature using the factors of Content, Credibility and Design. The established framework was further used in Papers 2 and 3 to develop a questionnaire to collect quantitative data on the relationship between cancer-affected people’s perceptions of the quality of online resources and their decisions to continue to use those resources and the psychosocial outcomes. Paper 2 uses the expectation-confirmation model of IS continuance as the research framework for examining the relationship between perceived quality and continuance usage intentions. Paper 3 uses the DeLone and McLean IS success model to investigate the impact of quality perceptions on users’ health information competence, improved coping strategies and improved self-care behaviour.
This study uses a mixed-method research design. Paper 1 uses semi-structured interviews to collect data to address the research question on features indicating the quality of online resources from the perspective of cancer-affected people. Based on the quality indicators identified in Paper 1, Papers 2 and 3 present a survey designed to investigate the relationship between perceived quality and each of continuance usage intentions and psychosocial outcomes, respectively.
The theoretical contribution of this study is a framework that measures the impact of perceived quality of online cancer communities and cancer-related podcasts on continuance usage intentions on one hand, and on the associated psychosocial outcomes of using those resources on the other hand.
The practical contributions are the insights from evidence-based findings that can inform non-profit cancer organisations on where to allocate resources when designing and selecting content for online cancer communities and cancer-related podcasts.