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Patient Educ Couns. 1990 Apr;15(2):171-9.

Meeting information needs of significant others: use of the Cancer Information Service.


Although significant others (spouses, relatives and friends) of cancer patients play an important role in providing support and assistance to the patient, their need for information regarding the disease is frequently overlooked by the health care system. This analysis examines information needs of (1) diagnosed cancer patients, (2) significant others of diagnosed cancer patients and (3) the general public, as reflected in their calls to the Cancer Information Service (CIS), a national toll-free telephone inquiry service. Major focus is on the types of cancer-related subjects significant others inquire about, as well as how they first found out about the CIS. Results indicate that significant others are similar to diagnosed cancer patients in their need for additional information on specific cancer sites, treatment, and referrals for second opinions, but differ in their request for information on counseling services and clinical trials. Additionally, significant others and cancer patients are similar in how they find out about the CIS. In contrast, significant others differ from the general public in their information requirements, as well as in their source of referral to the CIS. While the CIS appears to be a channel of communication capable of addressing the dynamic information needs of significant others, further research concerning the effectiveness of the CIS and other channels of cancer information in satisfying the information requirements of significant others is recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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