gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

How does the Internet use of cancer patients affect the relationship between doctors and patients?

Meeting Abstract

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27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocOP621

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Kirschning.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Introduction: It is known that Internet use has a sustainable impact on health communication. But there is only few knowledge about how and what for cancer patients use the Internet and whether the Internet information have an impact on decisions concerning their therapies. There are also few information about to which degree health related Internet use changes the way of coping with the disease. What influence has Internet use on the relationship between doctors and patients and subsequently on compliance?

Method: The data were surveyed during six months (Oct. 03- March 04) by an online-questionnaire for women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer.

First outcomes: The study has in total 563 participants. The surveyed are willing to confront themselves with their disease and are engaging themselves actively in their treatment process. For most of them Internet use is helpful despite the masses of information and sometimes their confusing contents. The patients are discussing the found information both with their close relatives and their doctors. More than two-thirds of the patients bring information from the Internet to their doctors´ appointment.

Conclusion: Patients are increasingly using the Internet to look for health related information. Patients, informed by different sources, can better target their interests. The use of internet-based information seldom results in „doctor-hopping“ or noncompliance. Most of the patients rather discuss the information with their doctors. Considering these conversations, they are full of expectation. The patients expect a high level of medical knowledge and the ability to indicate all the risks, side effects and alternatives from their doctors. But at the same time they expect their doctors to reduce the masses of information respective to the patients´ individual needs in order to make adequate decisions. When the doctors are able to fulfil these expectations, they are able to integrate the patients into “shared decision making processes”.