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Project connect online: user and visitor experiences of an Internet‐based intervention for women with breast cancer

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This study's purpose was to characterize the experience of patients with breast cancer randomly assigned to the intervention arm of Project Connect Online (PCO), a randomized controlled trial of an Internet-based intervention, and to examine relationships between website use variables and psychosocial outcomes.


In the larger PCO trial, patients with breast cancer (n = 88) were randomly assigned to an intervention or a waiting-list control. This report pertains to the 46 women in the intervention arm, a 3-h workshop for creation of personal websites with a blog function to communicate with their interpersonal network and chronicle their breast cancer experience. Participants completed assessments at 1 and 6 months. Visitors to the websites (n = 66) completed an online questionnaire.


Reactions to website use were positive, although lack of time was a barrier for some. Women with advanced cancer were more likely to use their websites. Women found the websites useful for telling the story of their experience and expressing emotions. Positive word use was associated with heightened positive mood at 6 months; negative word use was associated with improved depressive symptoms. Visitors were most commonly female friends of participants who valued the websites as a way to connect emotionally with participants and receive information about their health.


Specific aspects of patients' blogs predicted improvements in psychosocial functioning. Personal websites can help women with breast cancer construct a narrative of their experience, express emotions, and receive the social support they need, particularly from friends and extended family.

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