Comparison of patients' needs and doctors' perceptions of information requirements related to a diagnosis of oesophageal or gastric cancer

E Wittmann, C Beaton, W G Lewis, A N Hopper, F Zamawi, C Jackson, B Dave, R Bowen, A Willacombe, G Blackshaw, T D L Crosby
European Journal of Cancer Care 2011, 20 (2): 187-95
The aim of this study was to assess the information needs of patients diagnosed with oesophageal and gastric cancer and to compare these with their perceived information needs in the opinion of junior doctors. One hundred patients and 100 doctors responded to a questionnaire regarding the information needs of cancer patients. Seventy-nine per cent of patients wanted as much information as possible about their diagnosis, but only 35% of doctors were willing to give all the available information (P < 0.0001). Seventy-seven per cent of patients wanted to receive their diagnosis from a consultant whereas only 5% of doctors believed that patients should receive their diagnoses from a consultant (P < 0.0001). Eighty-four per cent of doctors were willing to communicate a serious illness with a good prognosis, yet only 43% would communicate a diagnosis with a poor prognosis (P < 0.0001). All 100 doctors had received formal training in breaking bad news, but 20 considered this inadequate. Socio-economic deprivation was associated with poor access to supplementary Internet derived information (P < 0.001). The majority of patients with a diagnosis of oesophagogastric cancer want a great deal of information regarding their illness, which contrasts with doctors' perceptions. Adequate training in information disclosure may help address this issue.

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