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Patients used the internet to transform their cancer experiences

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Q How do men and women with cancer talk about using the internet?


Qualitative study using interviews collected for the DIPEx charity (, which runs a website based on video, audio, and written clips from hundreds of interviews with patients.




Using maximum variation sampling, 175 men and women 18–83 years of age who had been diagnosed with prostate, testicular, breast, cervical, or bowel cancer in the previous 10 years were recruited at different stages of disease through general practitioners, hospital consultants, support groups, and word of mouth.


Individual narrative interviews were usually done in the respondents’ homes. Participants were asked to tell their own stories from the time they began to suspect they had a problem. The interviewer then used a set of semistructured questions to explore how and why information and support was accessed. Interviews were read and coded using both anticipated and emergent themes and analysed …

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  • For correspondence: Dr S Ziebland, Department of Primary Health Care, University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences, Oxford, UK.

  • Sources of funding: Citrina Foundation; Department of Health; NHS National Screening Programme; NHS Direct Online; Macmillan Cancer Relief.