Quality of life and disease understanding: impact of attending a patient-centered cancer symposium

Cancer Med. 2015 Jun;4(6):800-7. doi: 10.1002/cam4.422. Epub 2015 Jan 30.


To evaluate the impact of a patient-centered symposium as an educational intervention on a broad population of cancer patients. We developed a comprehensive patient symposium. Through voluntary questionnaires, we studied the impact of this cancer symposium on quality of life, cancer-specific knowledge, and symptom management among cancer patients. Symposium attendees were provided surveys prior to and 3 months following the educational intervention. Surveys included (1) EORTC-QLQ-C30; (2) disease understanding tool developed for this conference; (3) validated disease-specific questionnaires. Changes over time were assessed using McNemar's tests and paired t-tests for categorical and continuous variables, respectively. A total of 158 attendees completed the pre-convention survey. Most respondents reported at least "quite a bit" of understanding regarding treatment options, screening modalities, symptomatology, and cancer-related side effects. Attendees endorsed the least understanding of disease-related stress, risk factors, fatigue management, and legal issues related to disease/treatment. At 3 months, there was improvement in understanding (12 of 14 areas of self-reported knowledge especially regarding nutrition, and stress/fatigue management). However, no significant change was seen in QLQ-C30 functioning, fatigue, pain, or insomnia. A patient symposium, as an educational intervention improves a solid knowledge base amongst attendees regarding their disease, increases knowledge in symptom management, but may be insufficient to impact QoL as a single intervention.

Keywords: Cancer education; cancer survivorship; cancer symposia; educational intervention; patient education; quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survivors / psychology