Previous research has shown that women with breast cancer, as well as their female relatives and other healthy women, have significant information needs. While most women prefer to receive breast cancer information from health care professionals, they are more likely actually to receive such information from other sources, especially the mass media. However, relatively little is known about how well the breast cancer information included in mass media matches women's information needs. The proposed study is designed to analyze the breast cancer information included in two key health information sources for women -- selected Internet websites and popular women's and health magazines. The specific aims of the study are to (1) test the feasibility of the methods proposed for analyzing magazine and Internet content related to breast cancer, (2) investigate the breast cancer topics covered in women's magazines and health-oriented websites popular among women, (3) examine the accuracy of breast cancer information in these magazines and websites, (4) determine whether the breast cancer information women's magazines and websites provide matches the information needs expressed by breast cancer patients, and (5) investigate how women's magazines and websites portray breast cancer and breast cancer patients. Trained graduate student coders will examine five years' worth of issues of the 10 highest-circulation magazines aimed at adult women, 2 high circulation health magazines, 2 general circulation magazines targeted at older adults, and 3 magazines with high circulation among African-American women. They also will examine the first 50 non-duplicate, English-language websites returned using the phrase "breast cancer" in a search engine that ranks results by link popularity. Each magazine item or web page selected will be coded for the inclusion and accuracy of information important to breast cancer patients, first-degree female relatives and healthy women. The specific types of information coders will search for will be based on previous research and on the recommendations of a panel of experts, including a physician specializing in breast cancer. Other panel members will be nurses or others who provide counseling to breast cancer patients at the University of Florida's Shands Cancer Center. The panel members also will help to train coders to determine the accuracy of information and will resolve coder disagreements about information accuracy.
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