Patient information on cancerBMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7252.47/a (Published 01 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:47
Access to the information should be made easier
- Michelle Gillies, medical student (fourth year) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Glasgow University, Glasgow G12 8QQ
- Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Gardiner Institute, Western Infirmary, Glasgow G11 6NT
EDITOR—Jones et al found that patients with cancer preferred a computer system giving personalised information to one that gave general information.1 This raises questions about the usefulness of the internet as a source of primary information for these patients. Cost, technological barriers, and information retrieval are other reasons to question the use of the internet as a primary source of information.
To encourage home access the government has announced a scheme for cheaper computers. Telephone costs, however, are still relatively high. There may also be technological barriers: 18% of patients in one American practice (mean age 27) were initially unable to perform any computer functions on their own and required help from a medical student to use the internet.2 Computer experience among older British patients is much lower: among 200 gastroenterology outpatients in Glasgow (mean age 54) 68% had never used a computer before.3
Good quality information for patients with cancer does exist on the internet but may be difficult to find if users do not have suitable “gateways.” Using …