Information needs and sources of information for patients during cancer follow-up

M.A. Shea-Budgell, X. Kostaras, K.P. Myhill, N.A. Hagen



Now more than ever, cancer patients want health information. Little has been published to characterize the information needs and preferred sources of that information for patients who have completed cancer treatment.


We used a nationally validated instrument to prospectively survey patients attending a cancer clinic for a post-treatment follow-up visit. All patients who came to the designated clinics between December 2011 and June 2012 were approached (N = 648), and information was collected only from those who agreed to proceed.


The 411 patients who completed the instrument included individuals with a wide range of primary malignancies. Their doctor or health professional was overwhelmingly the most trusted source of cancer information, followed by the Internet, family, and friends. The least trusted sources of information included radio, newspaper, and television. Patients most preferred to receive personalized written information from their health care provider.


Cancer survivors are keenly interested in receiving information about cancer, despite having undergone or finished active therapy. The data indicate that, for patients, their health care provider is the most trusted source of cancer information. Cancer providers should ask patients about the information they want and should direct them to trusted sources.


information-seeking; information needs; follow-up care; survivorship

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)