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How Understanding Cancer Patient's Internet Design Preferences Affect Patient Education

Valerie R. Vestal, MSN, FNP, RN read an article in the Oncology Nursing Forum that was recently written by authors C. Chernecky,D. Macklin, & J. Waller. The authors believe that understanding the computer experience of individuals with cancer and their design preferences can enhance patient satisfaction and improve patient education.

The authors included 22 cancer patients residing in the United States with a venous access devices and explored the patients opinions and preferences on the lay out and design of multimedia education. Participants were drawn from three outpatient cancer centers in the southeast.

The authors developed the Computer Experience Questionnaire to explore the participant’s computer experience. All participants were also asked to evaluate if the computer was beneficial in helping them learn about venous access devices. The participants were also provided hands on computer experience to determine their preferences in terms of computer design and layout. After each participant completed the hands on session their preferences were evaluated using the Computer Preference Form. The computer preference form is an exact duplication of the screen layout.

During the hands on session participants with little or no computer experience were paired with participants who were familiar with the computer. Participants were asked to evaluate color, menu buttons, text, background, photo size, icons, and sample layouts. Findings indicate that 82% of patients had computer experience, 64% had experience with the internet and 100% had a home computer.

The results showed that colors of blue and green hues were preferred. Serif text was preferred. Participants favored backgrounds with light background, bold text and larger size text. Participants opted for a large photo size, measuring at least 1”x0.75. The most well liked graph icons illustrating a metaphor was “911” indicating emergency, “skull and crossbones” for danger and a “string on a finger to represent reminder.

The authors concluded that understanding and accommodating patient choices in computer designs can increase patient’s knowledge and overall health care understanding. In the future Health care providers should recognize the importance of patient preferences and increase patient involvement when developing internet and multimedia education.
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