Eligible patients were those planned to receive radical radiotherapy, who knew their diagnosis, were without visual or mental handicap, and were without severe pain or symptoms causing distress. Of 715 patients asked to take part, 190 refused, 25 stating they did not want more information. Of the 525 participants, 309 had breast cancer, 129 had prostate cancer, 22 had cervical cancer, and 65 had laryngeal cancer.
Data were collected at the recruitment interview, from a questionnaire the patients completed at home shortly after, and from their case notes. Data included the information patients would like,2
a hospital anxiety and depression scale,4
the newspaper patients read, and deprivation category (derived from postcode).5
tests and multiple logistic regression analysis, we compared the patients' sources and perceived quantity of information received and their satisfaction with this information, as binary variables, with their age, sex, cancer site, newspaper read (tabloid v
broadsheet), deprivation category, and anxiety and depression scores (table). Information need2
(“as much as possible” v
other) was considered both as a response variable and as a predictor of sources and satisfaction.
Four out of five patients wanted as much information as possible. In univariate analysis, newspaper read, deprivation category, having a connection with the health service, age, and time since diagnosis were predictors of information need. In multiple logistic regression analysis, however, only newspaper read and age remained predictors.
One in five patients were not satisfied with the information given. Univariate analysis showed that dissatisfied patients were much more likely to be depressed and were marginally more likely to be anxious or to want as much information as possible. In multiple logistic regression age, sex, and depression were predictors of dissatisfaction. Fifteen per cent of patients said there had been many differences in what they had been told by health professionals. Multiple logistic regression showed that these patients were more likely to be anxious.
Patients with breast cancer and readers of broadsheets had received more information and from more people than patients with other cancers but were not significantly more likely to be satisfied. The location of the clinician who gave the diagnosis had no effect on how much information patients had received. Younger depressed patients who wanted as much information as possible were less likely to be satisfied even though they had received more information than others. A third of patients said there were other things that they would like to have been told. Patients most commonly required further information on the effects of treatment and prognosis and recovery.