Peer-to-peer communication, cancer prevention, and the Internet Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Communication
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Internet
  • Neoplasms
  • Peer Group


  • Online communication among patients and consumers through support groups, discussion boards, and knowledge resources is becoming more common. In this article, the summary of a workgroup discussion, we discuss key methods through which such web-based peer-to-peer communication may affect health promotion and disease prevention behavior (exchanges of information, emotional and instrumental support, and establishment of group norms and models). We also discuss several theoretical models for studying online peer communication, including social theory, health communication models, and health behavior models. Although online peer communication about health and disease is very common, research evaluating effects on health behaviors, mediators, and outcomes is still relatively sparse. We suggest that future research in this field should include formative evaluation and studies of effects on mediators of behavior change, behaviors, and outcomes. It also will be important to examine spontaneously emerging peer communication efforts to see how they can be integrated with theory-based efforts initiated by researchers.

publication date

  • December 2009



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3645318

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/10810730902806760

PubMed ID

  • 19449267

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 38

end page

  • 46


  • 14


  • SUPPL. 1