Our aim was to evaluate differences in cancer-related internet patterns between AYAs (adolescents and young adults; 18-39 years at time of diagnosis) and older adult cancer patients (40+ years).
299 AYAs (mean age 31.8 years) and 270 older adults (mean age 55.8 years) participated. AYAs searched significantly more often on the internet on a daily basis just before diagnosis (45% vs. 37%), right after diagnosis (71% vs. 62%) and during treatment (65% vs. 59%) compared to older adults. During follow up, there was a trend that AYAs searched less often on the internet compared to older adults (15% vs. 17%). AYAs searched more often on topics, such as alternative or complementary therapies, treatment guidelines, fertility, end of life, sexuality and intimacy, lifestyle and insurance. AYAs felt significantly better informed (75%) after searching for cancer-related information compared to older adults (65%) and had significantly less unmet needs regarding access to their own medical information (22% vs. 47%). AYAs search more on the internet on a daily basis/several times per week in the diagnosis and treatment phase than older cancer patients. They search on different topics than older adults and seems to have less unmet eHealth needs.It is important that these are easy to find and reliable.
Cross-sectional surveys were distributed among AYA and older adult cancer patients regarding cancer-related internet use and eHealth needs.