Objective: Throughout a parent's cancer diagnosis and treatment, families are likely to turn to the Internet to find social, emotional, and informational support services. It is important that professionals understand the content and availability of support discoverable through Web searches. This study identified and described Web-based information regarding support services offered to families when a parent has cancer.
Methods: Predefined key search terms were searched across 2 public Web browsers for a period of 3 months. Web-based information of support services (n = 25) was abstracted, and their key criteria examined.
Results: Of services offering face-to-face support (n = 22), more were founded by persons impacted by cancer (n = 10) (patients, parents, and offspring) than professionals (n = 4). Services offered online were created by health organisations and universities (n = 3). It appeared several service programs were delivered by volunteers, support staff, or facilitators, rather than registered health professionals or those with professional qualifications. Few services supported young children (under 5 years) or the parents themselves.
Conclusion: Support services for families affected by a parent's cancer is relatively difficult to find through Web searches. Ambiguity around staff qualifications or evidence-base of support may hinder layperson engagement. Services offering face-to-face support were often founded by those directly affected by cancer; conversely, services founded by persons with assumable expertise (health organisation and university staff) were limited to online support. Such findings highlight a possible discrepancy in consumer and provider priorities and have implications for current understandings of psychosocial support needs and service development for families affected by a parent's cancer.
- parental cancer
- support service