Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 62–70 | Cite as

Satisfaction with information and unmet information needs in men and women with cancer

  • Hermann FallerEmail author
  • Uwe Koch
  • Elmar Brähler
  • Martin Härter
  • Monika Keller
  • Holger Schulz
  • Karl Wegscheider
  • Joachim Weis
  • Anna Boehncke
  • Bianca Hund
  • Katrin Reuter
  • Matthias Richard
  • Susanne Sehner
  • Carina Szalai
  • Hans-Ulrich Wittchen
  • Anja Mehnert



Information needs in cancer patients are high but often not fulfilled. This study aimed to examine the level of perceived information, information satisfaction, and unmet needs in a large sample of cancer patients. Further, we explored associations with emotional distress and quality of life accounting for gender.


In a multicenter, cross-sectional study in Germany, 4020 cancer patients (mean age 58 years, 51 % women) were evaluated. We obtained self-reports of information level, information satisfaction, and unmet needs, measured depressive symptoms with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), symptoms of anxiety with the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7), and health-related quality of life with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30).


Seventy-two to 88 % of participants reported to be well informed regarding various aspects of their disease, except of psychological support (38 %). However, unmet information needs were also prevalent in 36 to 48 %. Gender differences found were generally small. Although men felt less informed about psychological support, they expressed fewer needs for further information regarding this topic. Irrespective of gender, patients who were less satisfied with information received and had more unmet needs reported more anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life. Up to three quarters of those classified as most severely distressed reported unmet needs for information about psychological support.


In this largest study to date, we found high levels of both information received and satisfaction with information, but also considerable amounts of unmet needs, particularly regarding psychological support.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Provision of information about psychosocial support seems important to increase utilization of support offers among distressed cancer survivors.


Cancer Information Needs Quality of life Anxiety Depression 



This study was funded by a grant from the German Cancer Aid (Grant No:107465) within the psychosocial oncology funding priority program. We thank all healthcare teams involved assisting in data collection in all local study centers.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermann Faller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Uwe Koch
    • 2
  • Elmar Brähler
    • 3
    • 4
  • Martin Härter
    • 2
  • Monika Keller
    • 5
  • Holger Schulz
    • 2
  • Karl Wegscheider
    • 6
  • Joachim Weis
    • 7
  • Anna Boehncke
    • 7
  • Bianca Hund
    • 8
    • 9
  • Katrin Reuter
    • 9
  • Matthias Richard
    • 1
  • Susanne Sehner
    • 6
  • Carina Szalai
    • 3
    • 10
  • Hans-Ulrich Wittchen
    • 11
  • Anja Mehnert
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Medical Sociology and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Comprehensive Cancer Center MainfrankenUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Department and Outpatient Clinic of Medical PsychologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Section of Psychosocial OncologyUniversity Medical Center LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  4. 4.Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyUniversal Medical Center MainzMainzGermany
  5. 5.Division of Psychooncology, Department for Psychosomatic and General Clinical MedicineUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  6. 6.Department of Medical Biometry and EpidemiologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  7. 7.Department of Psychooncology, Tumor Biology CenterUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  8. 8.Rhein-Jura KlinikBad SäckingenGermany
  9. 9.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  10. 10.Psychosocial Counselling Center for Cancer PatientsZwickauGermany
  11. 11.Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy and Center of Clinical Epidemiology and Longitudinal Studies (CELOS)Technical University DresdenDresdenGermany

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