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Tags: internet | health | cancer | fatalistic

Online Searches Boost Health Outlook: Study

Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:15 AM EST

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Alexander Pope famously declared more than 200 years ago. But a lot of information — at least when it comes to health info on the Internet — can have a positive effect on a person’s outlook, particularly when it comes to cancer.

That’s the key conclusion of new research by a team of health communications specialists who tracked the views of nearly 2,500 Americans. They found those who use the Internet frequently for health information are less likely to have a “fatalistic” view of cancer than those who don’t go online for such purposes.

The study, published in the Journal of Communication, suggests frequent Internet users are far less likely to believe that getting cancer is a matter of luck or fate and, consequently, there is nothing they can do to reduce their risks or boost their survival odds.
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The researchers — from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — said the findings suggest the importance of using the Internet to spread and encourage healthy habits and activities that can prevent cancer. The study also highlights the need to for doctors and health experts to make clear that there are key things you can do to reduce the risks of developing cancer — including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and engaging in other healthy behaviors.

“Reducing cancer fatalism, especially among people with low socioeconomic status, is arguably one of the most important public health goals in the nation," said Chul-joo Lee, of the University of Illinois. "Studying the effect of Internet use on cancer fatalism is important, considering that the Internet has become a new, very crucial source of health information for the American public these days. These findings have important implications since we showed that the Internet may be a very effective channel of health communication especially for people with low socioeconomic status."
To reach their conclusions, Lee and colleagues surveyed 2,489 Americans — between the ages of 40 and 70 — over the course of a year. The results showed people who use the Internet frequently for health or medical information are less likely than those who do not use the Internet for such purposes to have fatalistic views of cancer. They also showed that increasing Internet use can reduce a sense of cancer fatalism, particularly among less educated and less health-knowledgeable people.
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The researchers noted past studies have found frequent TV viewing can increase fatalistic views on cancer.
“This study is the first to examine internet use,” the team concluded, “and the results were promising.”

© HealthDay

Searching the Internet for health information leads to a more realistic and less 'fatalistic' view of cancer, researchers find.
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:15 AM
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