Information needs and preferences of women as they proceed through radiotherapy for breast cancer
Objective: While radiotherapy is commonly employed in the treatment of breast cancer, many women know little about treatment and experience treatment related anxiety. The aims of this study were to: Prioritise breast cancer patients’ radiotherapy related information needs and concerns; determine unmet information needs; ascertain which information sources patients prefer to receive; and explore whether information provision reduces anxiety and depression.
Methods: A longitudinal survey was administered at four time points: after initial consultation with radiation oncologist, after the planning appointment, within first week of treatment and after treatment completion. Data was analysed using generalised estimating equations.
Results: 123 women participated. Women were most concerned about the impact treatment would have on their health in the future. Women identified high information needs prior to treatment planning and commencing treatment. Women's anxiety at baseline (mean = 6.07, SD = 3.89) did not significantly drop until after treatment commencement (mean = 5.33, SD = 4.15).
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that women's information needs and anxiety levels are high until treatment commencement.
Practice implications: In order to reduce patients’ psychological distress, information needs and concerns we recommend that a greater focus is placed on providing information to patients prior to treatment planning and prior to treatment.
Halkett, G. K. B., Kristjanson, L. J., Lobb, E., Little, J., Shaw, T., et al. (2012). Information needs and preferences of women as they proceed through radiotherapy for breast cancer. Patient Education and Counseling, 86(3), 396–404. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2011.05.010