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17-04-2017 | Uitgave 9/2017 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 9/2017

Online support groups for head and neck cancer and health-related quality of life

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 9/2017
Eamar Algtewi, Janine Owens, Sarah R. Baker



To investigate the association between using online support groups (OSGs) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and the psychosocial factors that may influence this association among individuals with head and neck (H&N) cancer.


A sample of 199 persons with H&N cancer using four OSGs completed an online questionnaire using six pre-validated measures for social network, self-efficacy, anxiety and depression, adjustment, empowerment and quality of life. In addition, socio-demographic as well as illness-related and OSGs-related information was collected.


Participants who had better HRQoL had been using OSGs for a longer time than those who had worse HRQoL (B = 0.07, p < 0.05). Depression and adjustment were the only direct mediators in this association, whereas self-efficacy, anxiety and empowerment appeared as indirect mediators.


Participation in OSGs was found to be associated to better HRQoL either directly or indirectly through decreasing depression, anxiety and the negative adjustment behaviours and increasing self-efficacy and empowerment of the users. The study presented a potential model of pathways linking OSG use and HRQoL for those with H&N cancer. However, the model needs to be tested in future longitudinal studies and the associations proposed need to be explored in greater detail.

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