Abstract: This study aims to investigate the effects of illustrations in online cancer information on older cancer patients’ website satisfaction (i.e. satisfaction with the attractiveness, comprehensibility and emotional support from the website) and recall of information. In an online experiment, 174 younger (<65 years) and older (≥65 years) colorectal cancer patients were randomly exposed to a webpage about transanal endoscopic microsurgery consisting of either text-only information, text with two cognitive illustrations or text with two affective illustrations. In general, adding cognitive illustrations compared with text-only information improved the satisfaction with the attractiveness of the website in both younger and older patients. For older patients in particular, cognitive illustrations facilitated recall of cancer information: whereas older patients recalled less information overall compared with younger patients (39% vs. 50%), no statistically significant differences in age on recall were observed when cognitive illustrations were added to text. Furthermore, older patients were more satisfied with the emotional support from the website than younger patients, especially when affective illustrations were present. Our results suggest that effective online cancer communication for ageing populations involves considering both cognitive and affective illustrations to enhance website satisfaction and recall of cancer information.
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