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People looking for information on cancer say variety is key

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by Cancer Research UK | News

18 November 2009

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People looking for detailed information about cancer outside of hospitals need a range of different information sources, reveals a Cancer Research UK survey published in the November issue of Cancer Nursing Practice.

Cancer Research UK’s information nurse team used data from 300 telephone and email user satisfaction surveys1 to examine why and how Cancer Research UK’s Information Services2 were being used.

The survey suggested that although users in the survey had opted to contact the charity by phone or email some also move between more than one of the services to gather information.

These services range from one-to-one support over phone or email though to the provision of information via the award-winning CancerHelp UK site and peer support and information sharing through the forum Cancer Chat.

It is hoped the findings will reinforce to health professionals the importance of directing patients and relatives to high quality sources of information and support – available at different times.

The survey respondents reported very high levels of satisfaction with the telephone and email services. Most said they would use the services again and recommend them to others.

Lead author, Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said:

“The results of the survey show how important it is for people affected by cancer to have access to information when they are not in hospital.

“This is the first large scale UK user satisfaction survey of an information service that has dealt with all types of cancer since 1996 and so provides new insights in to how cancer information services on the web are being used.

“Comparing the use of email, phone and other web-based services we found that people want different channels for information and many move between these channels.”

Currently the information nurses respond to around 10,000 enquiries per year by phone and email.

Growth in demand for varied information services has also contributed to the continued development of the charity’s patient information website CancerHelp UK3, its Cancer Chat forum4, and Cancer Spotlight e-newsletter.

Liz Woolf, head of CancerHelp UK, said: “This study confirms other feedback we have had from CancerHelp UK – having information available on cancer at all times can help people with cancer and their families to understand and cope with their situations. It also shows the importance of having a range of cancer information services to allow people to interact with information in a way that they are comfortable with.”


For media enquiries please contact Emma Rigby on 020 7061 8318 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.

Martin Ledwick et al. Meeting the Information Needs of Cancer Patients and their Families beyond the Point of Care. Cancer Nursing Practice. November 2009.