Objectives: To determine whether there is a gap between what patients know about early-stage prostate cancer and what they need to know to make treatment decisions, and whether the information patients receive varies depending on their treating physician.
Methods: Needs assessment was performed using a questionnaire consisting of 41 statements about early-stage prostate cancer. Statements were divided into six thematic subsets. Participants used a 5-point Likert scale to rate statements in terms of knowledge of the information and importance to a treatment decision. Information gaps were defined as significant difference between the importance and knowledge of an item. Descriptive statistics were used to describe demographic subscale scores. The information gap was analyzed by a paired t test for each thematic subset. One-way analyses of variance were used to detect any differences on the basis of treating physician.
Results: Questionnaires were distributed to 270 men (135 treated by radical prostatectomy, 135 by external beam radiotherapy). The return rate was 51% (138 questionnaires). A statistically significant information gap was found among all six thematic subsets, with five of the six P values less than 0.0001. Statistically significant variation was observed in the amount of information patients received from their treating physicians among four of the thematic subsets.
Conclusions: There is an information gap between what early-stage prostate cancer patients need to know and the information they receive. Additionally there is a difference in the amount of information provided by different physicians.