Young adulthood is a life stage when many societal roles are accomplished and major life changes occur. Undergoing cancer survivorship during this period can complicate developmental processes creating a need for support. However, there are few dedicated survivor support services for them, due to small numbers and limited resources.
While these barriers exist, it is worth noting the phenomena of youth internet culture that has become an integral part of their lives. This existing culture has potential to be utilised in providing survivorship support.
To better understand their online activities in order to design effective online services, we analysed young adult cancer patients’ blog contents with emphasis on gender differences.
To investigate characteristics of young adults with cancer in ways they write blogs, with particular focus on gender differences
Based on the established criteria, we collected blog entries generated by young adults with cancer. We conducted a content analysis of their blog contents and compared percentages of each coded domain.
160 blogs were included for the analysis. Despite the large gaps between genders in the blog length and number of writers (female: 4237; male: 775), there were marked percentage similarities in each domain.
The results of this study do not support existing theory suggesting that male patients often feel reluctant to express their health concerns due to the gender norms associated with masculinity. We propose that males may feel less obliged to comply with their gender norms in an online space which can become an outlet to express and address their issues.
In conclusion, the online blogs can be actively incorporated into developing survivor support in young adult cancer patients, particularly benefiting those who are male.