Profiles of 800,000 Users of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service Since the Debut of Online Assistance, 2003-2008
Published Date:Feb 15 2010
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 7(2).
In 2002, the Cancer Information Service (CIS) of the National Cancer Institute added to its toll-free telephone number 2 choices of media for access to cancer information specialists: e-mail and a proprietary online instant messaging service called LiveHelp. We sought to determine how new media users differ from telephone callers and the US population in general.
During the 6 years since the new media were added, we collected data from more than 800,000 people who contacted CIS.
Telephone calls to CIS declined while the number of LiveHelp and e-mail inquiries steadily increased. People who contacted CIS by telephone and LiveHelp were predominantly white and female and, compared with the general population, were relatively well educated. LiveHelp users were significantly younger, more educated, and more affluent than telephone callers. CIS clients asked most frequently for general cancer site information, information about treatment and side effects management, screening programs, and economic assistance. Telephone callers most often asked about breast cancer.
The Internet has introduced new sources of health information and possibly a new type of health information seeker. With LiveHelp and e-mail, CIS is poised to meet the needs of the digital health consumer and also the traditional telephone caller.
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