Internet-based Education for Prostate Cancer Screening

Kathryn Taylor

Prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis among men and the second leading cause of male cancer death. However, screening asymptomatic men remains controversial, as early diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer has not yet been demonstrated to reduce disease-related mortality in a randomized trial.

The goal of the current study is to develop and assess widely accessible, easily disseminable methods to assist men in making informed decisions about prostate cancer screening. We will compare the efficacy of a new web-based, interactive decision support approach to our existing print-based prostate cancer screening decision tool, among a diverse sample of male primary care patients. Abundant evidence documents the expanding role of the Internet in increasing access to and understanding of health information and the need for systematic evaluations of Internet-based interventions.

This research has the potential to make several significant and innovative contributions including:

  1. The development and evaluation of a widely-disseminable method of educating a heterogeneous group of patients about a controversial topic, which can be adapted for other similarly contentious issues,
  2. A determination of whether Web based materials are a feasible method of patient education for this age cohort, compared to print materials,
  3. An understanding of cognitive factors that may hinder comprehension of a controversial medical decision,
  4. A determination of who among the target population benefits the most from a web-based intervention, and
  5. The information required to streamline and target future web-based educational interventions.