Improving information to Italian cancer patients: results of a randomized study

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BackgroundIt has been widely shown that the provision of adequate levels of information to patients does have a positive effect on quality of life by reducing anxiety and depression levels. The aim of this study was to show how Italian cancer patients rate the information they are given and whether the use of booklets and videotapes can improve their quality of life.Patients and methodsCancer patients aged between 18 and 80 years who were about to receive their first chemotherapy course were randomized to fill in questionnaires on perceived quality of information, level of psychological distress, perceived severity and curability of the disease, and quality of life. The results were evaluated by means of statistical analyses.ResultsOut of 328 consecutive patients enrolled in 21 cancer centers, 86–93% considered the booklets either ‘very useful’ or ‘useful’. The videotape was regarded as ‘quite’ or ‘much’ more complete than the booklets (87%). According to 81%/87% of patients, the information that had been given had improved their knowledge of the disease/chemotherapy either ‘a lot’ or ‘enough’.ConclusionsThe information patients receive from the oncologist was rated the highest, as long as they were devoted enough time. Booklets and videotapes can partially overcome the lack of oral information given by medical doctors. A better informed patient does help the oncologist save time.

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