Information-seeking styles among cancer patients before and after treatment by demographics and use of information sources

J Health Commun. 2009 Jul-Aug;14(5):487-502. doi: 10.1080/10810730903032945.


The type and quantity of information needed varies between patients who actively seek information and those who tend to avoid information.We analyzed data from a longitudinal study of adult cancer patients from outpatient clinics for whom information needs and behaviors were assessed by survey before and after treatment. We evaluated the relationships between information-seeking style (active, moderately active, and passive styles) and demographics, cancer type, and health status for the pretreatment and posttreatment periods and overall. The generalized estimating equations (GEE) approach was used to model the log odds of more active to more passive information-seeking preferences taking into consideration both the pretreatment and posttreatment periods. Analyses included 731 case participants, including female breast cancer patients (51%), male genitourinary cancer patients (18%), and lung cancer patients of both sexes (10%). At pretreatment, 17% reported an active information-seeking style, 69% were moderately active, and 14% were passive. During this period, 19% of those with at least some college education reported being very active compared with 14% of those with less education. With adjustment for all other covariates, male genitourinary and lung cancer patients had a higher odds of having a more active information-seeking style in the pretreatment than in the posttreatment period, with an odds of 4.5 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.4-8.4) and 5.4 (95% CI: 2.7-10.6), respectively. Controlling for all covariates, breast cancer patients had 1.5 (95% CI: 1.0-2.1) times higher odds of being more active in seeking information than other patients. Public health researchers and clinicians must work together to develop the most effective strategy for meeting the informational needs of these patients before and after treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Outpatients
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult