Information needs and preferences among rural cancer survivors in Queensland, Australia: a qualitative examination

Research Snapshots of Health Systems and Behavioural Research

What is known?

Cancer survivors undergoing or completing treatment need comprehensive information on how they can minimise the impact of treatment side effects, manage their long-term health and monitor for cancer recurrence. Staying informed on these matters can lead to less anxiety, increased quality of life and higher likelihood that survivors will adhere to health advice and medical follow-up for their condition. This “survivorship information” is particularly vital for survivors returning home to rural areas after treatment in major cities, as they often have poorer access to health and support services. However, they may have different needs and preferences in terms of the information they require and how they receive it. This study aimed to understand how cancer survivors in rural Queensland seek and receive survivorship information, as well as their preferences regarding the content and delivery of such information.

What is new?

Our findings suggested that cancer survivorship information is not provided to rural cancer survivors in a consistent manner and that survivors’ attitudes towards seeking information varied greatly. For example, many wished to receive as much information as possible at the outset, whereas others had difficulty processing information due to emotional distress.

Several factors were identified as being important considerations when preparing and delivering survivorship care information to rural cancer survivors, including: providing holistic information about wellbeing as well as detailed treatment information, providing personally-tailored information regarding their diagnosis, providing information to address practical support needs, preferred methods of delivery and the survivors’ likelihood of accepting/engaging in information, and preferred sources of information.

What does this mean?

Quality, tailored cancer survivorship information would likely lead to improvements in satisfaction among rural cancer survivors. A one-size-fits-all approach to delivering this, however, is not appropriate. It is crucial that health professionals provide cancer survivorship information that is tailored to meet the needs and preferences of individual survivors, taking into consideration their specific information needs as well as their preferences regarding the amount of information they wish to receive and the timepoints at which they would like to receive it.

Contact:  Belinda Goodwin

Reference: Crawford-Williams F, Goodwin BC, Chambers SK, Aitken JF, Ford M, Dunn, J. Information needs and preferences among rural cancer survivors in Queensland, Australia: a qualitative examination. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2021. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.13163.

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