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Background: Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, with over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. These patients, survivors and their loved ones use the Internet to find information about breast cancer, search for treatment options and connect with support groups. For women in medically underserved areas, especially rural areas, the Internet could be one of their only sources of information.
Objective: The study investigates rural breast cancer patients’ and survivors’ motivations to seek online information, ability to use the Internet as a health information source, barriers to finding the information they seek, and the search strategy they use when seeking information online.
Methods: This qualitative study used “think-aloud” interviews with rural breast cancer patients and survivors to examine the thought process used to select online breast cancer information. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis in NVivo 9.
Results: Patients use Internet searches to corroborate provider recommendations and treatment plans. They preferred websites affiliated with nationally recognized cancer centers and breast cancer support organizations with few advertisements and comprehensive information.
: The importance of trust within the provider-patient relationship is a core theme. Although the provider is the preferred source of information, patients will use the Internet to verify provider recommendations.
Implications for Practice: Rural breast cancer patients desire Internet search training. Nurses and breast cancer survivors would be effective trainers to increase patient online search information satisfaction and provide reliable resources for patients seeking accurate health.


Published in the Journal of Womens Health, Issues and Care vol.2 no.6

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