Informational Needs of Breast Cancer Patients on Chemotherapy: Differences between Patients’ and Nurses’ Perceptions


Background: Cancer and chemotherapy are sources of anxiety and worry for cancer patients. Informationprovision is therefore very important to empower them to overcome and adjust to the stressful experience. Thus,nurses should be aware of the informational needs of the patients throughout the course of their care. Purpose:The purpose of the study was to identify the important information required by breast cancer patients during thefirst and fourth cycles of chemotherapy from both the patients’ and nurses’ perceptions. Methodology: This is alongitudinal study used a questionnaire adapted from the Toronto Informational Needs Questionnaires-BreastCancer (TINQ-BC). Some modifications were made to meet the specific objectives of the study. The study wasconducted in the Chemotherapy Day Care at the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Malaysia. Atotal of 169 breast cancer patients who met the inclusion criteria, and 39 nurses who were involved in their carewere recruited into the study.
Results: The overall mean scores at first and fourth cycle of chemotherapy were3.91 and 3.85 respectively: i.e., between 3 (or important) and 4 (or very important), which indicated a high levelof informational needs. There was no significant difference in information needed by the breast cancer patientsbetween the two cycles of chemotherapy (p=0.402). The most important information was from the subscale ofdisease, followed closely by treatment, physical care, investigative tests and psychosocial needs. Nurses haddifferent views on the important information needed by breast cancer patients at both time points (p = 0.023).
Conclusions: Breast cancer patients on chemotherapy have high levels of informational needs with no significantdifferences in information needed at first cycle as opposed to fourth cycle. There were differences between theperceptions of the breast cancer patients and the nurses on important information needed. A paradigm shift,with an emphasis on patients as the central focus, is needed to enhance the information giving sessions conductedby nurses based on the perceptions of the patients themselves.