Influential Factors in Breast Cancer Patients' Performance Using Malaysian Social Network Support Groups

Influential Factors in Breast Cancer Patients' Performance Using Malaysian Social Network Support Groups

Marva Mirabolghasemi (Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia), Noorminshah A. Iahad (Department of Information Systems, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia) and T. Ramayah (School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia & UTM International Business School (UTM-IBS), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJHISI.2019100105

Abstract

Social network communities can serve as a health resource for cancer patients to share and disseminate information. Even so, theory-based research into evaluating cancer patients' performance empirically using social network sites (SNSs) is limited, representing an identifiable knowledge gap. This study proposes a research model that integrates social cognitive theory and task technology fit theory to contribute to the understanding of key factors impacting the performance of breast cancer patients using SNSs. Data were collected via a structured paper-based questionnaire. A total of one hundred seventy-eight (178) participants from six cancer support groups and hospitals in Peninsular Malaysia responded to the administered survey. Survey data were analyzed using the partial least squares (PLS) method while Smart PLS was used to test the hypotheses and to validate the proposed model. Results indicate that outcome expectation, self-efficacy, negative affect, positive affect, social support and task technology fit are significant factors affecting the performance of breast cancer patients vis-à-vis Malaysian social network support groups.
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1. Introduction

Cancer patients often experience a range of physical, psychological and social distress upon a possible diagnosis. With the rapid growth of online support groups on social network sites (SNSs), geographical boundaries no longer matter as individuals can conveniently access these online support groups anytime, anywhere. Asa media for sharing and disseminating critical information, SNSs can help patients gather cancer-related information when coping with their chronic illness, for example, those having limited support services can seek out others facing the same health issues (Chung, 2014).With recent developments, rather than following the traditional linear flow from source to receiver, interactive communications among individuals become the major format of cancer-related information dissemination and exchange (Shi et al., 2018).

Today, hospitals and cancer support groups are embracing SNSs as these tools can add towards improving the quality of life for cancer patients. Van de Belt et al. (2012) explored the use of SNSs by 873 hospitals in 12 Western European countries and found increasing Facebook use across all countries. A 2014 study of Facebook found over 600 breast cancer support groups; such SNS communities function generally to aid members share their treatment details, aside from giving them supportive feedback (Grajales et al., 2014). With proliferating SNSs worldwide, many Malaysian breast cancer patients have now turned to these media for information gathering or sharing as well as self-expressions (Hassona et al., 2016). In fact, the Malaysian governments well as private hospitals and cancer support groups in Malaysia have used Facebook, a popular SNS; for example, many Malaysian patients are also members of some Facebook breast cancer communities, including the Breast Cancer Survivors & Warriors Public Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BreastCancerSW/).

Despite a growing number of users that these SNS groups attract, relatively little research of explicit user behaviour (Abramson et al., 2015) has been conducted. Even so, the impact of SNS participation may be estimated through users’ performance (Cao et al., 2015). Such performance construct may be viewed as a multi-dimensional and dynamic concept comprising both a behavioural and an outcome aspect (Sonnentag & Frese, 2002; Ortiz de Guinea & Webster, 2013; Mirabolghasemi et al., 2015; Moustaghfir et al., 2016). The behavioral aspect refers to what an individual does in a situation, which may, conceivably, be as a function of person, context and interrelationships among individuals (Moustaghfir et al., 2016). Whereas, the behavioral aspectis concerned with actions carried out by individuals, the outcome aspect refers to the consequence or result of the individual’s behaviour (Ortiz de Guinea & Webster, 2013). In this study performance as a behaviour encompasses activities such as increasing one's interaction and networking with others in SNSs (Mirabolghasemi, 2015) whereas performance as an outcome (in terms of content and valued resources) may result in obtaining usable, credible, relevant and reliable information (Nambisan, 2011).

The primary aim of this study is to investigate key factors believed to influence breast cancer patient’s performance in SNS groups along the following research question:

What are key factors influencing cancer patients’ performance vis-à-vis their use of social network support groups?

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