Tailored information about cancer risk and screening: a systematic review

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Nov;77(2):155-71. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 Apr 18.


Objective: To study interventions that provide people with information about cancer risk and about screening that is tailored to their personal characteristics. We assess the tailoring characteristics, theory base and effects on risk perception, knowledge and screening behavior of these interventions.

Methods: A systematic literature review in this field was performed. PubMed, EMBASE, PsychINFO, CINAHL and Cochrane databases were searched. Forty studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Methodological quality was assessed and a best evidence synthesis conducted for the 28 randomized controlled trials without co-intervention or with similar co-intervention in intervention and control group.

Results: Most included studies evaluated an intervention aiming to promote cancer screening. The majority of articles (30) evaluated information that was tailored based on variables related to behavior change, sometimes combined with cancer risk factors. Ten other articles described an intervention that tailored information based on risk factors only.

Conclusion: Information that was tailored based on behavior change variables increased realistic perception of cancer risks and knowledge of cancer compared to generic information. Also, information tailored to individuals' risk factors increased realistic risk perception compared to generic information.

Practice implications: To improve cancer risk perception and knowledge health providers could better give patients information about cancer risk and screening that is tailored to their personal characteristics than generic information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk