What Are the Unmet Information Needs of Cancer Patients? A Qualitative Study

  •  Fatima Yatim    
  •  Paula Cristofalo    
  •  Etienne Minvielle    


OBJECTIVE: Identify the unmet information needs of cancer patients and understand the causes of patients’ dissatisfaction

METHODS: A qualitative method using interviews with cancer patients attending a Meeting and Information Area (ERI) at Gustave Roussy cancer center (France), and focus groups with the ERI professionals. The data were analysed using vertical and horizontal open coding.

RESULTS: Firstly, the needs for medical information are important, but there are other types of information that patients need (e.g. organizational information). Secondly, patients’ dissatisfaction is not linked only to the lack of medical information; it also reflects other needs, which are not taken into account (e.g. accompanying information to make it understandable and useful). Thirdly, the relationships established over time between patients and professionals make possible the emergence of latent needs (ranging from basic information needs to requests for psychological support).

CONCLUSION: Information must be considered in an integrated and holistic approach to facilitate patients’ navigation and improve their health literacy.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The training of healthcare professionals is crucial, but this is not enough. The introduction of other, non-carers professionals is necessary to address a broad range of patients’ needs in a more effective and cost-efficient way.

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