Evaluation of a web-based, tailored intervention to encourage help-seeking for lung cancer symptoms: A randomised controlled trial

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Background: People with lung cancer often wait for several months before presenting symptoms to health services. Some patients report seeking information online to help them appraise symptoms. No research has evaluated whether websites about lung cancer present information in an optimal manner to encourage help-seeking. Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of an online, tailored, theory-based intervention in encouraging help-seeking behaviour among people with potential lung cancer symptoms. Methods: The intervention consisted of a specialised website which provided tailored information about lung cancer and included a component to address beliefs about help-seeking, based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (“TPB-component”). Individuals with undiagnosed symptoms were randomised to receive information about lung cancer in a factorial design (tailored/untailored x TPB-component/no TPB-component). Pre and post viewing webpages, participants reported perceived likelihood of seeking help. Data were analysed using robust mixed factorial ANOVA. Results: Data from 253 participants (73.9% female) were analysed. No effect for the TPB-component was found (p=0.16), nor for tailoring (p=0.27). Self-reported likelihood of seeking help increased significantly from pre to post (p<0.001), regardless of tailoring and TPB-components. Conclusion: Self-reported likelihood of seeking help for potential lung cancer symptoms may increase after viewing information online. This does not appear to be affected by information tailoring and components to address beliefs. However, intentions remained unchanged in the majority of the sample. This suggests further efforts are needed to improve lung cancer websites if they are to be a useful resource for those seeking advice about their symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Health
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2020

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Thomas Ashton Institute


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