Information needs and sources of information among cancer patients: a systematic review of research (1980-2003)

Patient Educ Couns. 2005 Jun;57(3):250-61. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2004.06.006.


Understanding what cancer patients need to know and from whom they receive information during the course of care is essential to ensuring quality care. We reviewed 112 articles published from 1980 to 2003 and developed a typology summarizing cancer patients' information needs and the sources from which they receive information. The majority of articles focused on information needs and sources during the diagnosis and treatment phase. Thus, the most frequent information need was treatment-related (38.1%). The most frequent information source was health professionals (27.3%). We examined patients' information needs and sources along the continuum of care and found that during diagnosis and treatment, information needs about the stage of disease, treatment options, and side-effects of treatment were prominent; during post-treatment, patients continued to need information about treatment, and information about recovery was also important. Future research should examine cancer patients' information needs and sources throughout their cancer journey.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Data Collection
  • Europe
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Hotlines
  • Humans
  • Information Services / organization & administration*
  • Internet
  • Mass Media
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Research Design
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom
  • United States