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J Health Commun. 2006;11 Suppl 1:vii-xvi.

The health information national trends survey: research from the baseline.

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  • 1National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


The decades surrounding the turn of the millennium will be remembered as a time of extraordinary opportunity in cancer communication. In 1990, the number of age-adjusted deaths due to cancer in the U.S. population began a slow steady decline after a century of disparaging increase. Reasons for this decline have been attributed to long-awaited successes in primary prevention, especially related to tobacco, and early detection for cervical, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers, as well as advances in treatment. This was also a time of unparalleled change in the cancer communication environment. Scientific health discoveries escalated with the completion of the Human Genome project in 2003, and penetration of the Internet made health information available directly to consumers. To seize the opportunity afforded by these changes, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). Fielded for the first time in 2003, the HINTS is a nationally representative, general population survey of noninstitutionalized adults in the United States 18 years and older. This supplement contains a compilation of original research conducted using the data generated by the first administration of the HINTS telephone interviews. Covering topics in cancer knowledge, cancer cognition, risk perception, and information seeking, the articles represent an interdisciplinary view of cancer communication at the turn of the millennium and offer insight into the road ahead.

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