Online chat is used in a variety of health settings within Australia. An online chat service provides a soft entry point with the opportunity to build trust and confidence while maintaining privacy, emotional safety and control. In 2016 Cancer Council SA implemented online chat as a new service to provide information and support to people effected by cancer. The service is evaluated to understand who is using the service and why, along with the impact on people effected by cancer.
Data are collected both pre (compulsory; includes national data set information) and post chat (optional; satisfaction rating and distress level post chat). For each completed chat the transcript is saved. Process measures are collected regarding the number of available times to chat, the number of chats completed, duration of each chat, interactions per chat and time to respond.
Between January 2016 and July 2017 there were 83 Online chat cases recorded by 13 11 20 with transcripts. Those using the online chat service were mostly female (72.3%) and the largest age group was 40 to 49 years old (31.3%). The highest usage by group was family and friends, then diagnosed cancer patients. Reasons for using online chat were varied with the highest being treatment and management, followed by general information, and then screening. Of those who were able to connect and then completed the post-chat survey (n=15) the majority found out about the service via the Cancer Council SA website and it was their first time contacting a 13 11 20 service. The majority also noted they were extremely satisfied with and would use the service again.
The online chat service is being used by all age groups although mostly by females. Satisfaction with the service is high and the majority would use the service again.