Objective: Fulfilling patients’ information needs can help them cope with illness and improve their well-being. Little research has been conducted on the characteristics of patients using different information sources. This study aims to get insight into which information sources patients receiving chemotherapy for the first time use and which factors (background characteristics, psychological factors, information needs and source reliability) explain the use of different mass-media information sources.
Methods: Three hundred forty-five patients receiving chemotherapy in ten hospitals in the Netherlands completed a questionnaire. Use of 16 sources (mass-media and interpersonal) was measured with a five-point Likert scale. Regression analyses were conducted to test whether use of the three most frequently used mass-media sources could be explained by socio-demographic, medical and psychological factors, unfulfilled information needs and perceived reliability of the source.
Results: Treatment guide, brochures and Internet were the most frequently used mass-media sources. Medical specialists, nurses, and family and/or friends were the most common interpersonal sources. Using the treatment guide was found to be associated with treatment goal, unfulfilled information needs and source reliability. Using brochures was associated with cancer-related stress responses, coping style and source reliability. Using Internet was associated with age, education, coping style and source reliability.
Conclusions: This study developed a model to explain the use of mass-media information sources by patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy. The use of different information sources is associated with different factors, indicating that each source offers specific opportunities to tailor information to the patient’s needs.