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