Patient education about treatment in cancer care: An overview of the literature on older patients’ needs
An increasing number of older people are treated for cancer. Several factors, such as comorbidity and sensory deficits, occur more frequently in older patients than in younger patients. In addition, their life circumstances, values, and preferences may differ according to Jansen and her colleagues.
In their review of 17 studies the investigators found that many older patients want as much information on disease and treatment as possible, but they are less interested in details than younger patients. Furthermore, older patients reported less need for information on sexual consequences and psychosocial support. Effective patient education is known to be the key to outcomes in terms of more patient satisfaction, recall and understanding of information, less anxiety and mood disturbances, and, ultimately, improved patient health status. Good communication with older patients requires knowledge of older peoples’ experiences with cancer and their needs. Jansen concludes that studies which illuminate the unique needs of older patients with cancer in the treatment phase of the disease are strikingly limited given the demographics of cancer in our society. Research is needed that explicitly investigates these needs and the influence of age-related changes in cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functioning.(Reference: Jansen, J; van Weert, J; van Dulmen, S; Heeren, T; Bensing, J. Patient education about treatment in cancer care: An overview of the literature on older patients’ needs. Cancer Nurs. 2007;30(4):251-260. 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.)