Information needs, sources of information, and decisional roles in women with breast cancer

Oncol Nurs Forum. 1996 May;23(4):691-6.


Purpose: To describe preferred and actual roles in treatment decision making among women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, to describe their sources of information, and to identify and prioritize their information needs.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Sample: Seventy-four women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Setting: Two tertiary, outpatient oncology clinics in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Methods: Three measures were completed: control preferences card sort, Thurstone scaling of information needs, and ranking of information sources.

Main research variables: Decisional roles, sources of information, and information needs.

Findings: More women (43%) preferred and more (57%) actually assumed a passive role in treatment decision making. This is particularly true of older women. Although 37% of women preferred a collaborative role, only 19% were able to assume such a role. The women preferred personal sources of information (physician, nurse, friend, or relative) over written sources. A medical journal was more relevant to women with higher levels of education. Most information needs included stage of disease, likelihood of cure, and treatment options. The women ranked self-care issues and sexuality as least important; older women, however, ranked self-care issues as more important.

Conclusions: Women who want collaborative roles in decision making may experience difficulty in achieving such roles. Personal sources of information were more important to women than written sources.

Implications for nursing practice: Nurses can use a knowledge of women's priorities for information to guide information sharing. Nurses can assess women's desired roles in treatment decision making and facilitate women achieving their preferred roles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Participation*
  • Role
  • Surveys and Questionnaires