Objective: This review examined the extent to which the information needs of partners and family members of cancer patients has been addressed in the literature.
Methods: We conducted a systematic search of four databases for papers published between 1998 and 2008 which assessed the information needs of partners and/or family members of adult cancer patients.
Results: Thirty-two papers were included in the review. Eleven categories of information need were identified. There was a predominant focus on breast or prostate cancer, leaving a knowledge gap in relation to other cancers. Few papers moved beyond the diagnosis and initial treatment phase, and most did not distinguish between met and unmet needs. Those that did, indicated that partners/family members are more likely to have unmet needs for information about supportive care than for medical information. The concept of ‘information need’ was generally poorly developed and theorised in the papers.
Conclusion: Establishing the information needs of partners and family members of cancer patients is an important, but as yet neglected, area of research. In order to develop our understanding of this area more empirical research, with sound conceptual and theoretical foundations is required.
Adams, EBoulton, MWatson, E
Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery
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