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CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 356-3945
E-mail: thomas-moore@uiowa.edu

Release: May 17, 1999

On-line support group offered to patients with cancer

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Specialists in the University of Iowa Cancer Center are now offering an on-line support group for patients with cancer.

"We feel that this is another way that we can offer care for patients with cancer that is not only state-of-the-art, but will also be compassionate and responsive to the needs of patients," said George Weiner, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and director of the UI Cancer Center.

The planning team for the on-line support group began its task by studying other on-line support groups around the nation. Team members found that the most effective on-line support groups feature a monitoring service provided by health care professionals. Patients participating in an on-line support group benefit greatly from having their questions and concerns addressed by both fellow patients and cancer specialists.

"We will be signing on to the cancer on-line support group on a regular basis," said Joan Felkner, a UI Cancer Information Service information specialist. "We'll be able to answer questions about new treatments, research trials and medical issues that other patients may not always be able to address."

The on-line support group provided by the UI Hospitals and Clinics is one of the few such support groups in the United States that are monitored by health care specialists. The planning team has also included a research component in the design of the on-line support group.

"There's no doubt that an on-line support group that is well-designed and monitored by health care professionals can be very beneficial for patients with cancer," said Joy Sutter, a social services specialist in the UI Cancer Center. "We hope that by asking the patients who use this on-line support group what their reactions are, we will be able to determine just how helpful this service is and find ways to make it even better."

The planning team also emphasized confidentiality in its preparations for the on-line support group for patients with cancer. The privacy of people participating in the on-line support group will be strictly protected. At the same time, anyone in the world who has access to the Word Wide Web can participate in the on-line support group.

m excited about the on-line support group for patients with cancer such as myself," said Teresa "I' Garcia, a UI doctoral student and a patient being treated for lymphoma in the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center at the UIHC. "The Web is so convenient, and this is a great way to interact with people who know what I am going through. I think it's terrific."

In order to participate in the group, you will need a computer with Internet access. To register for the online support group, log on to http://www.cancer.vh.org and follow the directions for joining the group. If you need additional information, please contact Joan Felkner of UI Cancer Information Service at 319-356-4262, Joy Sutter at 319-356-1730 or Linda Abbott at 319-353-8188.