Kalyani Ankem, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Sciences
North Carolina Central University
Durham, NC 27707
Email: kankem@nccu.edu

A systematic review of literature on the types of information important to cancer patients was conducted. The review included 18 studies. A synthesis of the ranking of the importance attached to various types of information by patients in individual studies showed that information about the disease itself and information about the treatment that follows are the most important types. A review of factors affecting the need for a particular type of information found that younger patients attribute more importance to information about sexual concerns and physical attractiveness than older patients. This type of information, however, was ranked least important by cancer patients overall. Also, the review indicates that highly educated patients may be similar to less educated patients in the types of information they need. As for the impact of patient situations on the need for a specific type of information, patients who prefer to be active in decision-making during illness want more information about their illness. Although some evidence existed to indicate that patients who are closer in time to their diagnosis need to understand the disease by wanting more information about their illness, the stage of cancer does not affect the type of information needed.

Download Article