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Sunday 27th May 2018

Net differences in gender

29th April 2006

01052006_malefemaleinternet1.jpgProf. Clive Seale from the School of Social Sciences and Law at Brunel University has led a study in collaboration with researchers from Oxford and Surrey Universities, which analyses the ways in which male and female cancer patients use the Internet to cope with their illness. The research, partly conducted online, seems to demonstrate that men and women with cancer look for information about the disease in very different ways.

As well as a series of individual interviews, the research involved a keyword analysis of the Prostate Cancer Charity message board and that of Breast Cancer Care.

Women are more interested in using the Internet to seek emotional support and to discuss the impact of their illness on their relationships. Men, on the other hand, were found more likely to use the Internet to access factual information about the impact of their cancer and the best medical treatments. 

The Head of Policy and Research at The Prostate Cancer Charity, Dr Chris Hiley, said that perhaps it isn't surprising that the way men and women with breast and prostate cancers communicate in web forums is different, but added that 'it is very important that these differences are spelled out and understood.' He added that we know that not all cancers are the same and that individuals will handle their cancer in different ways, but nonetheless 'it is fascinating that the research clearly shows, in general, a gender split in the preferred style of communication.'

He concluded that the learning from the research will help to inform The Prostate Cancer Charity's evolving style of communication, ensuring that it is 'as helpful as possible to all people affected by prostate cancer.'

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