Requests for information by family and friends of cancer patients calling the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service
PURPOSE: To characterize their information needs, we examined the main topics of inquiry and discussion (subjects of interaction, SOI) of calls made by family and friends of cancer patients to the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service's (CIS) 1-800-4-CANCER telephone information service and summarized differences by sociodemographic characteristics. DESIGN AND ANALYSIS: Data from 26 789 family or friends of cancer patients calling the CIS between September 2002 and August 2003 were analyzed. Frequencies, chi(2)'s, and logistic regressions were conducted to ascertain sample characteristics and sociodemographic correlates of each SOI. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The greatest proportion of calls concerned specific treatment information (54.9%) and general cancer site information (36.9%). Calls about specific treatment information were more likely among Asians, Hawaiian Natives, and Pacific Islanders (OR = 1.23, 1.04-1.45), and those with higher education (OR = 1.21, 1.18-1.25). As age increased, the odds of calls about specific treatment information also increased (OR = 1.05, 1.03-1.07). Females (OR = 0.78, 0.72-0.84), Hispanics (OR = 0.77, 0.67-0.89), African-Americans (OR = 0.68, 0.61-0.76), and American-Indians and Alaskan Natives (OR = 0.74, 0.58-0.93) were less likely to inquire about specific treatment information. Inquiries about general cancer site information were more likely among females (OR = 1.14, 1.06-1.23) and less likely among younger callers (OR = 0.95, 0.93-0.97) and African-Americans (OR = 0.87, 0.78-0.98). Differences in inquiries made by sociodemographic subgroups can inform the CIS' and other cancer-related organizations' efforts to develop and disseminate cancer information for family and friends of cancer patients.