Over half of men would seek health advice online before going to their GP according to new research from national health charity, Prostate Cancer UK.
A survey (i), conducted by YouGov on behalf of the charity, showed that 53% of men would go online for information before booking an appointment with their GP if they were concerned about a health issue. The results have prompted the launch of a series of digital services from Prostate Cancer UK for men living with or worried about prostate cancer and their families, which have been made possible through funding from the Movember Foundation.
Prostate Cancer UK’s new Live chat service, which goes live today, is leading the charge for cancer charities in this area, and will give men and anyone with concerns or questions about prostate cancer the opportunity to chat to a Prostate Cancer UK Specialist Nurse online. Now, as well as having the option to speak to a nurse using the traditional phone service, men who visit the website will also receive an invitation from a nurse to chat about their concerns via instant messaging.
The service, which initially ran as a three month pilot project, is expected to appeal to men who find it difficult to talk about their health concerns with health professionals face-to-face, or over the phone.
Karen Sumpter, Clinical Lead at Prostate Cancer UK says; “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men – over 40,000 are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK. Yet, despite the shocking statistics, men are notoriously bad at talking about their health, particularly to health professionals.
“However increasingly, we’re seeing a growing trend of men going online to find answers to their health concerns before going to their GP or discussing them with loved ones. During the three month pilot project for Live chat, our Specialist Nurses connected with over 160 people online - mainly men who were concerned about prostate cancer. Online messaging services cater for those men who are worried about their health but might feel uncomfortable talking about a particular concern on the phone or face-to-face. Our live chat service will help us reach more men by giving them an easier way to talk with us about difficult issues. We’re proud to be leading the way in this area.”
Mike Sawkins was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer at the age of 52 in 2008. He recently turned to the Prostate Cancer UK website for information on treatment options. Whilst on the site, he received an invitation to talk to one of the charity’s nurses online. He comments;
“I’ve been living with prostate cancer for six years. Recently the medication that I have been taking for the last year has stopped being so effective. I turned to Prostate Cancer UK’s website for further information and received an invitation to talk to one of the charity’s Specialist Nurses online. The nurse was so helpful. She was able to answer all my questions and I had time to gather my thoughts and really think about what I needed to ask, which can sometimes be tricky over the phone.”
The charity has also recently launched an additional online service in collaboration with relationship charity, Relate, for individuals, couples and family members affected by prostate cancer. Similar to Live chat, participants will have the opportunity to speak to specialist counsellors via instant messaging about issues impacting on their relationships as a result of a prostate cancer diagnosis, from erectile dysfunction and lack of libido, through to coping with stress, depression and anxiety. The new online service is available in addition to a series of face-to-face relationship support services across the country.
People affected by prostate cancer can also access a newly updated online community on Prostate Cancer UK’s website, which includes new features to help more men search for answers online. The online community now works on mobile devices so that men and their loved ones can get support wherever they are, from others who share their experiences. Participants can also now chat in real time. Every month, thousands of online community members use the service and post more than a thousand messages in hundreds of active conversations.
Prostate Cancer UK’s online services have been made possible thanks to the charity’s partnership with Movember. Further information on all the services can be found here.
i) Survey figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2864 adults, of which 1,723 were men. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th January and 4th February 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).