Class, race, ethnicity and information needs in post-treatment cancer patients

Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Dec;85(3):432-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.01.030. Epub 2011 Feb 26.


Objective: Health information-seeking behaviors (HISBs) are associated with active participation in cancer care decisions which, in turn, may positively impact health outcomes. The goal of this study was to develop a taxonomy of topics for which post-treatment cancer patients sought information, and to explore HISB patterns by sociodemographic factors and cancer type.

Methods: We examined how health information seeking is associated with social determinants in a survey of 521 post-treatment cancer patients.

Results: Four major topics of interest were found: disease/treatment, self-care management, health services, and work/finance. Assessment of the relationship between social determinants and these four topics showed associations for (1) HISBs on disease/treatment topics decreased with age and increased with education; (2) HISBs on self-care management increased with education and varied by cancer type; (3) HISBs on health services increased with education; and (4) HISBs on work/finance decreased with age and wealth, but increased with debt.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate one pathway through which social determinants may drive communication inequalities, which may result in increased disparities in health outcomes.

Practice implications: Further exploration of the relationship between social determinants and information-seeking among post-treatment cancer patients may contribute to the development of strategies to reduce health disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult