Information interventions for orienting patients and their carers to cancer care facilities.

Raymond J. Chan, Joan Webster, Louise Marquart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer patients experience distress and anxiety related to their diagnosis, treatment and the unfamiliar cancer centre. Strategies with the aim of orienting patients to a cancer care facility may improve patient outcomes. Although meeting patients' information needs at different stages is important, there is little agreement about the type of information and the timing for information to be given. Orientation interventions aim to address information needs at the start of a person's experience with a cancer care facility. The extent of any benefit of these interventions is unknown. To assess the effects of information interventions which orient patients and their carers/family to a cancer care facility, and to the services available in the facility. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 2); MEDLINE (OvidSP) (1966 to Jun 2011), EMBASE (Ovid SP) (1966 to Jun 2011), CINAHL (EBSCO) (1982 to Jun 2011), PsycINFO (OvidSP) (1966 to Jun 2011), review articles and reference lists of relevant articles. We contacted principal investigators and experts in the field. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cluster RCTs and quasi-RCTs evaluating the effects of information interventions that orient patients and their carers/family to a cancer care facility. Results of searches were reviewed against the pre-determined criteria for inclusion by two review authors. The primary outcomes were knowledge and understanding; health status and wellbeing, evaluation of care, and harms. Secondary outcomes were communication, skills acquisition, behavioural outcomes, service delivery, and health professional outcomes. We pooled results of RCTs using mean differences (MD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). We included four RCTs involving 610 participants. All four trials aimed to investigate the effects of orientation programs for cancer patients to a cancer facility. There was high risk of bias across studies. Findings from two of the RCTs demonstrated significant benefits of the orientation intervention in relation to levels of distress (mean difference (MD) -8.96 (95% confidence interval (CI) -11.79 to -6.13), but non-significant benefits in relation to state anxiety levels (MD -9.77 (95% CI -24.96 to 5.41). Other outcomes for participants were generally positive (e.g. more knowledgeable about the cancer centre and cancer therapy, better coping abilities). No harms or adverse effects were measured or reported by any of the included studies. There were insufficient data on the other outcomes of interest. This review has demonstrated the feasibility and some potential benefits of orientation interventions. There was a low level of evidence suggesting that orientation interventions can reduce distress in patients. However, most of the other outcomes remain inconclusive (patient knowledge recall/ satisfaction). The majority of studies were subject to high risk of bias, and were likely to be insufficiently powered. Further well conducted and powered RCTs are required to provide evidence for determining the most appropriate intensity, nature, mode and resources for such interventions. Patient and carer-focused outcomes should be included.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD008273
JournalCochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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