Background: This study examined the sources used by cancer patients to obtain helpful information regarding their treatment options and side effects and the major predictors that facilitated usage of information.
Methods: The survey was administered to a representative sample of cancer patients in Texas. The cancer treatment facilities from which the patients were sampled were part of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center's Texas Community Oncology Network. A total of 593 patients (65%) out of 910 contacted responded to the survey.
Results: The patients reported that providers such as physicians and nurses were the most helpful sources of information. White patients tended to use books and reference materials more heavily to gather additional information regarding their treatment, while black patients relied on pamphlets and television. Educational level appeared to have a major influence on the black patient's use of printed materials.
Conclusions: The results document the important role that providers play in influencing patients' treatment decisions. Effective ways to communicate with cancer patients are different for patients with different racial backgrounds. Implications for the future development of patient education materials and cancer prevention initiatives targeting ethnic minorities are addressed.