Perceived Importance of Information Needs on Breast Cancer among Adults: a Population-Based Survey in the District of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Medical Library, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

3 National Professional Officer (Health Systems Evidence and Analysis), World Health Organization, Country Office for Sri Lanka, 226, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

4 Former Senior Oncological Surgeon, National Cancer Institute, Maharagama, Sri Lanka.


Background: Information needs of Breast Cancer (BC) and its perceived importance has not been adequately
assessed in Sri Lanka. The present study aimed to assess cognitive information needs of BC among the adults. Methods:
A household survey was conducted among a representative sample (n=1500) of over 18 years of age resident in the
district of Colombo not having BC patients in the families. A validated interviewer-administered questionnaire collected
information on general and cognitive information needs. Exploratory factor analysis assessed whether any of the
aspects of informational needs are redundant and to group the needs. Results: Mean age of the participants was 37.21
(SD = ±9.7) years. Proportion of females was 51.7%, 82.9% were married and 44.1% had been educated up to General
Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level. Exploratory factor analysis revealed all items of the questionnaire to
form two groups that were named as “Factual information on BC prevention and early detection (screening and early
diagnosis)” and “Factual information on BC diagnosis and treatment”. Results indicated that both groups of information
needs were considered as highly important and the group “Factual information on BC diagnosis and treatment” (mean
score 4.20 ± 0.75) was perceived as more important than the other group. The perceived importance of information
needs was shown to be significantly different based on the sex of the adults, marital status, level of education and
the employment status of the participants. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that cognitive information needs on
BC are viewed as highly important by the general public. The study identified specific informational needs that are
perceived as more important and some socio-demographic characteristics that are associated with higher perceived
needs. The study recommends taking into account the findings of the study in designing the content and target groups
for education on BC.


Main Subjects