Health-related Information Needs in a Large and Diverse Sample of Adult Cancer Survivors

Implications for Cancer Care

Published in: Journal of Cancer Survivorship, v. 2, no. 3, Sep. 2008, p. 179-189

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2008

by Ellen Burke Beckjord, Neeraj K. Arora, Wendy McLaughlin, Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Ann S. Hamilton, Bradford W. Hesse

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BACKGROUND: This study describes the information needs of adult cancer survivors, identifies sociodemographic, health, and healthcare-related factors associated with information needs, and examines the relationship between information needs and survivors' perceived mental and physical health. METHODS: One thousand forty survivors 2-5 years post-diagnosis who were identified via two cancer registries were included in the present analysis. Self-report questionnaires assessed six categories of information needs, sociodemographic, health, and healthcare-related variables, and perceived mental and physical health. RESULTS: Information needs were prevalent and varied; most survivors need more information about tests and treatments, health promotion, side effects and symptoms, and interpersonal and emotional issues. Multivariate analyses suggested that survivors who were younger, who reported non-White race/ethnicity, who reported less than excellent quality of follow-up cancer care, and who had more comorbid health conditions had more information needs. After adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related variables, more information needs were associated with worse perceived mental and physical health. CONCLUSIONS: Most cancer survivors needed more information about maintaining good health outcomes during survivorship. Health communication interventions, such as Survivorship Care Plans, have excellent potential to address survivors' information needs while improving quality of follow-up cancer care and health-related quality of life.

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