Cancer in the elderly: The caregivers' perception of senior patients' informational needs

Annalisa Giacalone, Renato Talamini, Lucia Fratino, Cecilia Simonelli, Alessandra Bearz, Michele Spina, Umberto Tirelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of our study was to explore the caregivers' perception of the informational needs of Italian elderly cancer patients at the time of diagnosis. We asked the senior cancer patients naïve for treatments and their caregivers, admitted to our National Cancer Centre, to take a written self-administered questionnaire exploring the patient's information needs and his/her information-seeking behavior. The questionnaire was completed by 112 elderly cancer patients (median age 72 years) and their caregivers (median age 54 years). Patients were mostly affected by genital-urinary (27%) or breast/gynecological (25%) cancer. Caregivers were usually females (71%), daughters/sons (45%) and/or partners (41%). One-third of the senior patients showed a desire to receive extensive information regarding diagnosis and gravity, while 44.6% wanted to know about recovery. Caregivers showed improper recognition of the real needs for information of the their own patients (κ tests showed unsatisfactory or poor agreement). Caregivers cannot be considered the preferred spokespersons of the oncologist when the patient is elderly or his/her needs for information again remain unmet. Interventions, both to help senior patients express their needs and to improve the patient-to-doctor-to-caregiver communication about cancer diseases, are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009


  • Cancer in elderly
  • Caregiver
  • Communication about cancer
  • Informational needs of elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology


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