Treatment for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) can lead to considerable functional impairment. As a result, HNSCC patients experience significant decrements in quality of life, high levels of emotional distress, deteriorations in interpersonal relations, and increased social isolation. Studies suggest that HNSCC patients may have extensive informational and psychosocial needs that are not being adequately addressed. However, few programs have been developed to address the needs of HNSCC patients. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study of HNSCC patients to: 1) characterize patients' informational needs; and 2) describe preferred formats and time points for receiving such information. The majority of participants desired additional information regarding treatment options, managing changes in swallowing and speaking, and staying healthy after treatment. Overall, patients with early-stage disease reported more informational needs compared to patients with advanced disease. Female patients were more likely to desire information about coping with emotional stress and anxiety than male patients. Younger patients (29-49 years) were more interested in receiving information about sexuality after cancer compared to their older (50+) counterparts. Although information was requested throughout the cancer trajectory, most patients preferred to receive such information at diagnosis or within 1-3 months post-treatment. The majority of patients reported having computer and Internet access, and they were most receptive to receiving information delivered via the Internet, from a DVD, or from pamphlets and booklets. The relatively high percentage of patients with computer and Internet access reflects a growing trend in the United States and supports the feasibility of disseminating health information to this patient population via Internet-based programs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Biomedical Engineering
- Head and neck cancer
- Informational needs
- Treatment side effects