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Meeting Information Needs of Cancer Patients

Learning to sail your own ship

Author Anthony J. D’Angelo wrote, “In your thirst for knowledge, be sure not to drown in all the information.” No doubt cancer patients know this feeling all too well. Where exactly is that safe harbor between too much information and not enough?

To understand patients’ health information needs, researchers conducted narrative interviews with 127 people with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer and published their findings in BMJ Open. They discovered that in addition to providing patients with knowledge, information seeking gave them a much-needed sense of control. With the necessary information, patients felt less fearful and more confident about their treatment decisions and the consequences of their disease. Cancer survivors who believed their information needs had been met had higher health-related quality of life and lower depression and anxiety, while people with unmet needs had lower quality of life. The authors concluded, “Methods for developing and evaluating health information tools for patients with cancer and survivors should therefore include domains other than knowledge provision, such as emotional management and gaining control through reassurance, and/or developing an independent stance as a patient.”

For more information about learning to self-manage emotional reactions to cancer-related stress using an innovative, digital platform, visit CanSurround.

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