Information-Seeking Behaviors of Women With Breast Cancer

Charlotte E. Rees

Peter A. Bath

breast neoplasms, cancer education, information needs

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer.

Design: Sequential, between-methods triangulation.

Setting: Community-based.

Sample: 156 women with breast cancer took part in a mailed survey, and 30 women with breast cancer participated in three focus group discussions (n = 11, 12, and 7).

Methods: Women with breast cancer completed the Miller Behavioral Style Scale (MBSS). Other women with breast cancer participated in one of three age-stratified focus group discussions.

Main Research Variable: Information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer.

Findings: The information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer, as measured by the monitoring subscale of MBSS, were not significantly associated with their demographic (e.g., age, socioeconomic class) and illness-related characteristics (e.g., months since diagnosis, surgery, therapeutic regimens). The focus group discussions suggested that the information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer were highly individualistic. Although some women actively sought information, others avoided information. In addition, women sometimes fluctuated between seeking and avoiding information. Women sought information to cope with breast cancer, regain a sense of control, increase their feelings of confidence, and help facilitate the decision-making process. Women avoided information to escape from worry, fear, and feelings of negativity and depression.

Conclusions: The information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer are highly individualistic and are not related to demographic or disease-related characteristics.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Breast-care nurses need to be sensitive to the information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer. Information seekers should be given maximum information, and information avoiders should be given minimum information. In addition, more research needs to be conducted into the information-seeking behaviors of women with the disease.

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