This study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, explored women’s symptom attribution and online health information-seeking in response to a hypothetical and unfamiliar breast change suggestive of cancer (nipple rash). The study also aimed to establish the feasibility of capturing in real time the online information-seeking process with a tool designed to track participant online searches and visited websites.
The study concluded that making a cancer attribution for an unfamiliar breast change did not necessarily translate into cancer-termed searches. Equally, not all internet searches led to a cancer attribution.
The findings suggest that online information-seeking may not necessarily help women who experience unfamiliar breast cancer symptoms understand their condition.
This study showed that it is feasible to use an online browser tracking tool to capture in real time information-seeking about unfamiliar symptoms.
Marcu A, Muller C, Ream E, Whitaker KL
Online Information-Seeking About Potential Breast Cancer Symptoms: Capturing Online Behavior With an Internet Browsing Tracking Tool
J Med Internet Res 2019;21(2):e12400