Background: Due to insufficient data regarding patient needs and preferences, health professionals remain concerned about correct the amount, type and extent of information to be communicated to cancer patients.
Aim: The objective of this study was to assess the needs and preferences of cancer patients for information regarding their disease.
Methods: The study was carried out at a regional cancer centre and a tertiary care hospital in Multan. Patients were interviewed using a structured pretested questionnaire to determine their desire and preferences for information about their illness.
Results: Four hundred and sixty four patients having a mean age of 44.44±17.24 years with male preponderance (60%) participated in the study. About two third of the patients (71.9%) wanted to know all the information about their condition regardless of its nature, good or unfavorable. Most of the patients (82.2%) wanted their family to know about their diagnosis while a few (4.8%) wished their friends to have knowledge about their illness. Information about prognosis of disease and chances of cure was desired by 94.3% of the respondents. Most of the patients wanted to know about all the possible treatments (68.7%), about the action of treatment in body (57.6%) and its side effects (68%). In addition, 88.7% of the patients wanted to know about cases in which the treatment they are receiving worked leading to recovery.
Conclusions: Majority of the patients with cancer want to know about their diagnosis, effect of illness on daily functioning, prognosis and examples of cases in which treatment they are receiving was effective.