Opportunities and challenges in online support of cancer patients

B. Papp László
Magyar Klinikai Onkológiai Társaság

The online support of oncological care may increase patients’ adherence, and by this it can contribute to the effectiveness of treatment, the improvement of quality of life and physician-patient communication as well as to a higher sense of control over the disease. With the online support of supportive care, patients and their relatives can get information on what they can do in order to improve their conditions, how they can recognize side effects and alarming symptoms of complications, what kind of changes they need to make in their lifestyle and how they can reduce the level of distress. Though the positive outcomes are feasible in many cases, quite considerable number of reports in the field do not meet the requirements of evidence. The online support of oncological care may offer considerable opportunities, however, it may further increase inequality: the more educated and well-off patients with higher level of health awareness may benefi t more, meanwhile for the ones at the bottom of digital divide, the disadvantages may increase. The Hungarian internet coverage and accessibility make the broader online support technologically possible, however, its effectiveness may be hindered by the lack of human skills. Therefore, it is a real challenge to establish such platforms that can be used by the broadest spectrum of society, they are comprehensible for patients and their relatives with lower education, but also satisfying for patients and their relatives with higher level of literacy and expectations.

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