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A literature review of head and neck cancer patients information needs, experiences and views regarding decision-making


Lucy Ziegler, School of Health Studies, University of Bradford, Unity Building, 25 Trinity Road, Bradford BD5 OBB, UK (e-mail:


This study reviews the body of existing research undertaken to explore head and neck cancer patients experiences of treatment for surgery, their information needs and their views regarding decision-making. Patients who suffer head and neck cancers and undergo surgery often report considerable psychological distress and impaired social functioning. To optimize survival, the decision about what treatment option to follow is often made quickly, with little support in terms of counsel or the provision of information. It is suggested that there is inadequate previous work exploring the content and delivery of information required by patients, their experiences and their views regarding decision-making to guide appropriate clinical interventions. By assimilating and critiquing existing work in this review an appropriate focus for further research is likely to be determined. An electronic search of relevant databases was undertaken including Cinahl, Medline, Psychinfo, Assia, the Cochrane Library and British Nursing Index. In addition, a grey literature search was also undertaken by hand. The search strategy was developed using recommendations from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination ‘Guidance for Those Carrying Out or Commissioning Reviews’ (CRD Report Number 4, 2001). There is significant psychosocial and other functional disturbance amongst survivors of head and neck cancer surgery. Improved information giving may play a part in determining these outcomes.