People looking for information on cancer say variety is key

Cancer Research UK

People looking for detailed information about cancer outside of hospitals need a range of different information sources, reveals a Cancer Research UK survey published in the November issue of Cancer Nursing Practice.

Cancer Research UK's information nurse team used data from 300 telephone and email user satisfaction surveys1 to examine why and how Cancer Research UK's Information Services2 were being used.

The survey suggested that although users in the survey had opted to contact the charity by phone or email some also move between more than one of the services to gather information.

These services range from one-to-one support over phone or email though to the provision of information via the award-winning CancerHelp UK site and peer support and information sharing through the forum Cancer Chat.

It is hoped the findings will reinforce to health professionals the importance of directing patients and relatives to high quality sources of information and support - available at different times.

The survey respondents reported very high levels of satisfaction with the telephone and email services. Most said they would use the services again and recommend them to others.

Lead author, Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said:

"The results of the survey show how important it is for people affected by cancer to have access to information when they are not in hospital.

"This is the first large scale UK user satisfaction survey of an information service that has dealt with all types of cancer since 1996 and so provides new insights in to how cancer information services on the web are being used.

"Comparing the use of email, phone and other web-based services we found that people want different channels for information and many move between these channels."

Currently the information nurses respond to around 10,000 enquiries per year by phone and email.

Growth in demand for varied information services has also contributed to the continued development of the charity's patient information website CancerHelp UK3, its Cancer Chat forum4, and Cancer Spotlight e-newsletter.

Liz Woolf, head of CancerHelp UK, said: "This study confirms other feedback we have had from CancerHelp UK - having information available on cancer at all times can help people with cancer and their families to understand and cope with their situations. It also shows the importance of having a range of cancer information services to allow people to interact with information in a way that they are comfortable with."

ENDS

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References

Martin Ledwick et al. Meeting the Information Needs of Cancer Patients and their Families beyond the Point of Care. Cancer Nursing Practice. November 2009.

Notes to Editor

1. Of the 300 responses to the survey - 149 people who had used Cancer Research UK's telephone service and completed a postal survey and 151 web users completed an online survey.

2. Cancer Information Services

Cancer information services outside of hospitals answer questions on treatment, diagnosis, management, trials, support systems and more.

UK nurse-delivered Cancer Information Services include those provided by:

  • Cancer Research UK
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Breast Cancer Care
  • The Prostate Cancer Charity

3. There are one million visits a month to CancerHelp UK

4. Cancer Chat has had nearly 3000 registered users and 190,000 visits since the site launched in July 2008

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