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Information Needs of Cancer Patients Calling the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service

Linda Brafford Squiers, PhD>, Cancer Information Service, National Cancer Institute, 6116 Executive Blvd., Rockville, MD 20852, 301-594-9075, squiersl@mail.nih.gov and Lila Finney-Rutten, PhD, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, 6120 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852.

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Cancer Information Service (CIS) provides cancer information through a toll-free telephone service (1-800-4-CANCER); LiveHelp – real-time assistance in navigating NCI’s cancer.gov website; and its Partnership Program which delivers cancer information to underserved populations. We examined the subjects of interaction (main topics) of calls made to the telephone service by cancer patients (n=38,087) between September 1, 2002 and August 31, 2003. The percentage of total calls with various subjects of interaction were calculated and differences were compared across the cancer continuum (no treatment, in treatment, post-treatment, recurrence) and among sociodemographic subgroups. Common inquiries focused on: treatment information (67.5%), specific cancer sites (32.2%), medical referrals (17.8%), and support services (16.9%). Specific treatment information inquiries were most common among patients in treatment (72.7%) or with recurring cancer (94.7%). General cancer site information (45.6%) and referral services (27.1%) were most common among patients who had not had treatment. Inquiries about support services were most common among patients in treatment (21.1%), women (20.3%), Spanish speakers (35.7%), American Indians/Alaskan Natives (33.0%), Hispanics (31.2%), Blacks (30.4%), or callers with less than a high school education (36.9%). Our findings highlight the diverse information needs of cancer patients throughout their cancer journey.

Learning Objectives:

  • Upon conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to describe

    Keywords: Cancer, Public Health Education

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Experiences of Cancer

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA