Tailored online health information benefits cancer patients’ information processing during consultation

Published on November 8th 2019 – Providing online preparatory information can support cancer patients in their communication with their provider, shows a recent study by Minh Hao Nguyen and other ACHC-researchers.Many patients with cancer, including older patients (aged ≥65 years), consult the Web to prepare for their doctor’s visit. However, older patients have varying needs regarding the mode in which information is presented (e.g., via textual, visual, or audiovisual modes) owing to age-related decline, such as reduced vision, hearing, and processing speed. In a randomized controlled trial among 232 newly diagnosed cancer patients, Nguyen and colleagues tested the effectiveness of a mode-tailored health website, looking specifically at differences between younger (<65) and older patients (≥65).

As preparation before a hospital visit, one group received a mode-tailored website (i.e., enabling patients to tailor information using text, images, and videos). Three other groups received a non-tailored website (i.e., text only, text with images, and text with videos). The results showed that younger patients were more satisfied with the website and felt less anxious after their hospital visit, when they viewed a tailored website instead of a non-tailored website. Such differences were not found for older patients. Interestingly, results also showed that patients who were more satisfied and involved with the website had more knowledge before their hospital visit. This knowledge helped patients to better remember information they received from their doctor during their hospital visit. The latter was found by measuring information recall after their visit and assess the answers based on video recordings of their consultations.

The researchers conclude that offering preparatory online information benefits both younger and older patients. Younger patients benefit even more when information is offered in a mode-tailored manner. The results have important design implications for health information in today’s eHealth era.

Read more: Nguyen, M. H., Smets, E. M. A., Bol, N., Loos, E. F., van Laarhoven, H. W. M., Geijsen, E. D., van Berge Henegouwen, M. I., Tytgat, K. M. A. J., & van Weert, J. C. M. (2019). Tailored Web-based information for younger and older patients with cancer: Randomized controlled trial of a preparatory educational intervention on patient outcomes. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(10), e14407.

Click here for the article.