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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2010 Jul;19(4):538-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2009.01090.x. Epub 2009 Aug 25.

Meeting breast cancer patients' information needs during radiotherapy: what can we do to improve the information and support that is currently provided?

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Western Australian Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care, and Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA, Australia.


Previous research has reported that patients require specific information relating to radiotherapy; however, these studies fail to describe patients' specific information needs over time. The aims of this study were to determine the specific information needs of breast cancer patients who are receiving radiotherapy and identify when patients prefer to receive specific information. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 34 early breast cancer patients and 14 health professionals. Seventeen patients were interviewed after treatment completion, and 17 patients were interviewed on at least two occasions during their radiotherapy. Grounded theory and the constant comparative method were used to analyse the data. Three main categories emerged from the data: 'repertoire of information', 'amount of information relating specifically to radiotherapy' and'tailoring information to match patients' radiotherapy journeys'. Patients' information needs were identified, and key messages and strategies to inform patients were described. This paper identifies breast cancer patient's specific information needs during radiotherapy and shows that patients' information needs are highest during their first appointment with their radiation oncologist and at the time of their planning appointment. The findings presented will enable health professionals to develop and refine their approaches to patient education in radiotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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