Cancer-Related Information Seeking Among Cancer Survivors: Trends Over a Decade (2003–2013)

Lila J. Finney Rutten, Amenah A. Agunwamba, Patrick Wilson, Neetu Chawla, Sana Vieux, Danielle Blanch-Hartigan, Neeraj K. Arora, Kelly Blake, Bradford W. Hesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The demonstrated benefits of information seeking for cancer patients, coupled with increases in information availability, underscore the importance of monitoring patient information seeking experiences over time. We compared information seeking among cancer survivors to those with a family history of cancer and those with no history of cancer. We identified characteristics associated with greater information seeking among cancer survivors, key sources of cancer-related information, and changes in information source use over time. Data from five iterations of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) spanning 2003 to 2013 were merged and analyzed. Frequencies, cross-tabulations, multivariate logistic regression, and multinomial regression analyses were conducted. All data were weighted to provide representative estimates of the adult US population. Cancer information seeking was reported most frequently by cancer survivors (69.8 %). The percentage of cancer survivors who reported information seeking increased from 66.8 % in 2003 to 80.8 % in 2013. Cancer information seeking was independently associated with age, education, and income; seeking was less likely among older adults, those with less education, and those with lower incomes. Compared to respondents in 2003, those in 2005 (odds ratio (OR) = 0.40, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 0.24–0.65) and 2008 (OR =.43, 95 % CI = 0.26–0.70) were about half as likely to use the Internet as the first source of cancer information compared to a healthcare provider. Despite overall increases in cancer information seeking and access to health information from a variety of sources, healthcare providers remain a key source of health information for cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-357
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Cancer communication
  • Cancer information
  • Cancer survivors
  • Health information
  • Information seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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