Effective ways of presenting online information to older cancer patients (OCA-1)

Providing information to patients is crucial within cancer care. As the Internet is becoming an increasingly valuable source of information, it is important to consider the rapidly aging population when designing online cancer materials. Yet, the lack of studies and inconsistent findings on how to optimally present online information to older populations call for theory- and evidence-based research. By combining theories from communication science, cognitive aging, and educational psychology, this project aimed to provide insight into (1) the effects of illustrations and videos on older adults’ website satisfaction and recall of online cancer information, (2) the underlying processes explaining those relationships, and (3) the role of age and age-related factors. In total, 973 healthy adults and 540 (ex-)cancer patients participated in six studies using experiments as well as survey and eye-tracking methodology. The results revealed that being more emotionally satisfied with the website led to greater recall of information for older adults, but not for younger ones. Both illustrations and videos enhanced website satisfaction and recall of information. In particular, conversational-styled videos in which an older, likable narrator tells a compelling story, were effective for older adults. Next to satisfaction with the emotional support, older cancer patients’ recall was influenced by other message experience characteristics (e.g., perceived cognitive load) and individual characteristics (e.g., health literacy, frailty), but not by chronological age. The studies conducted in this project deepen our understanding of how to present online cancer materials in such a way that older patients can effectively process online cancer information.

This project is a collaboration between the Amsterdam School of Communication Research/ASCoR (budget holder) and the department of Medical Psychology (AMC) of the University of Amsterdam.

Research team: Promovendus: Nadine Bol
Prof. Julia van Weert and Prof. Hanneke de Haes (promotores)
Prof. Eugène Loos en Prof. Ellen Smets (copromotores)
Status: Finished (dissertation)
Funding: Amsterdam School of Communication Research/ASCoR & Dutch Cancer Society