Radiation therapy information for breast cancer patients: appropriate timing, sources and content

Start Year: 2006
Finish Year: 2009
Chief Investigator: Dr Georgia Halkett
Grant Type: Fellowships
Institution: Curtin University of Technology

Postdoctoral Training Fellowship

Dr Halkett previously identified that the timing and delivery of radiation therapy information to breast cancer patients requires improvement. Although previous studies have evaluated the effectiveness of information provision in radiation therapy, they have not adequately evaluated the timing of information provision.

Dr Halkett aims to: determine the information needs of breast cancer patients; prioritise these information needs, preferred information sources and preferences for sequencing of different types of information; develop an educational intervention that meets these information needs at different time periods during their radiation therapy experience; and evaluate the impact of the intervention on patient outcomes using a randomised controlled trial.

All women who have been diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer and referred for radiation therapy in Western Australia, will be eligible for this study. Study 1 will employ a qualitative research approach to explore and determine patients’ information needs. Study 2 will use a cross sectional survey and descriptive statistics to confirm and prioritise these information needs. Study 3 will involve the development and piloting of the educational intervention. The intervention will be evaluated using a randomised controlled trial of early breast cancer patients.

Effective education delivered in a way and at a time where recipients are most receptive to information has the potential to increase the uptake of and reduce the attrition from radiation therapy by increasing patients’ understanding, reducing initial anxiety and improving the overall experience of receiving radiation therapy.