Understanding the information needs of people with haematological cancers. A meta-ethnography of quantitative and qualitative research

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Clinical practice in haematological oncology often involves difficult diagnostic and treatment decisions. In this context, understanding patients’ information needs and the functions that information serves for them is particularly important. We systematically reviewed qualitative and quantitative evidence on haematological oncology patients’ information needs to inform how these needs can best be addressed in clinical practice. PsycINFO, Medline and CINAHL Plus electronic databases were searched for relevant empirical papers published from January 2003 to July 2016. Synthesis of the findings drew on meta-ethnography and meta-study. Most quantitative studies used a survey design and indicated that patients are largely content with the information they receive from physicians, however much or little they actually receive, although a minority of patients are not content with information. Qualitative studies suggest that a sense of being in a caring relationship with a physician allows patients to feel content with the information they have been given, whereas patients who lack such a relationship want more information. The qualitative evidence can help explain the lack of association between the amount of information received and contentment with it in the quantitative research. Trusting relationships are integral to helping patients feel that their information needs have been met.

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