Illness understanding of oncology patients in a community-based cancer institute

Shanthi Sivendran, Sarah Jenkins, Sarah Svetec, Michael Horst, Kristina Newport, Kathleen J. Yost, Manshu Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose Several studies have demonstrated that patients have a poor understanding of prognosis, survival, and effectiveness of chemotherapy, particularly in the setting of advanced cancer. This study examines oncology patients' understanding of their illness based on accurate reporting of stage at diagnosis and knowledge of cancer status (ie, free of cancer or in remission v active disease). Materials and Methods Two hundred eight patients with cancer previously treated at our large community-based cancer institute participated in the Consumer-Based Cancer Care Value Index field survey. Electronic medical record documentation of stage at diagnosis and cancer status was compared with patients' self-reported responses. Concordance of responses and variables influencing discordance were evaluated. Results In 51.0% of patients, self-reported cancer stage matched the abstracted stage, with the highest concordance in patients with advanced cancer (72%) versus patients with stage I to III disease (36.4% to 61.5%). Unexpectedly, discordance was lower among patients with advanced cancer compared with patients with stage I to III cancer (P = .0528). Patients who were concordant for cancer stage at diagnosiswere significantlymore likely to be female (P = .001), be younger than age 65 years (P = .01), have an income.$60, 000 (P = .03), and have more education (P = .02). In 64.4% of patients, self-reported cancer status (ie, free of cancer or in remission v active disease) matched the abstracted status. Nearly 30% of patients were not sure about their status, even when they were free of cancer or in remission. Conclusion Our findings confirm that more than one quarter of patients with advanced cancer have poor illness understanding and highlight that an even greaternumberof patients with early stage I to III cancer have poor illness understanding. These observations highlight the need to improve illness understanding for patients across the entire cancer continuum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e800-e808
JournalJournal of oncology practice
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Health Policy


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