To seek, listen or avoid: Providing tailored communication to older patients with cancer

Published on June 4, 2021 – Together with Amsterdam UMC, ACHC researchers published a study in the Journal of Geriatric Oncology on May 11th, 2021.  This study identified three profiles of older patients with cancer based on their information needs. Besides the well-known “information seeker,” and “information avoider,” a third group appeared to be the largest group within our sample of older patients with cancer: the “listener.” Although characterized by a high monitoring coping style (i.e., who prefer lots of information), patients in this group showed at the same time lower perceived importance for being informed about different cancer-related information topics as compared to the “information seeker”. 

This study used k-means cluster analysis to provide a better understanding of cancer-related information needs among older patients with cancer, thereby considering the heterogeneity in their needs and preferences. Two-hundred and twenty-three patients with cancer and survivors aged 70 years or older completed an online survey. Based on an extensive scoping review, the researchers included measures on information needs and related factors (i.e., psychological distress, ability, motivation, participation in decision making, and demographics). Three profiles were identified: “information seekers,” “listeners,” and “information avoiders” . Important differences between “information seekers,” “listeners,” and “information avoiders” mainly concerned variations in psychological distress and motivation. More specifically, the “information seeker” generally experienced higher levels of intrusive thinking, cancer worry, and intolerance of uncertainty than the “information avoider,” while at the same time reporting higher self-efficacy in interacting with a physician compared to the “listener” and “information avoider.” These characteristics pose important implications for clinical practice and help to better understand how clinicians could start to tailor their medical interactions with different types of older patients.

You can download the article here.

This study was funded by the Dutch Cancer Society (UvA 2014–7288).