Understanding breast-cancer patients’ perceptions: Health information-seeking behaviour and passive information receipt
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It is critical to understand patients’ information use from the patient perspective, especially when patients are from different cultures and levels of health literacy. A cross-sectional survey supplemented with interviews of breast cancer survivors including both Latina and non- Latina women was undertaken. Subjects were classified as active information seekers, passive information receivers, and/or users of information. Subjects were further classified by stage of information use, progressing from unawareness or awareness of available information to use or non-use of information to make health decisions. Information sources used and use patterns were examined. Most were active information seekers; many were also passive receivers. Healthcare providers remain the primary information source. Interpersonal communication was far more often cited than either the internet or traditional print and broadcast media. Important cross-cultural differences were found. This study provides insight into how patients use actively sought and passively received information. Despite dramatic growth of the internet and other new media, healthcare providers currently remain keys to health information. Findings may help develop more successful communication strategies when viewed in light of the National Cancer Institute’s ‘Making Health Communication Programs Work’ and the four stages it proposes. It is hoped that future work will focus on evidence-based methods to improve health communication, especially for vulnerable populations. A major lesson learned is the importance of understanding where patients decided to seek information outside the traditional provideroriented approach taken in many health education programmes.