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Fulfillment of patients’ information needs during oral cancer treatment and its association with posttherapeutic quality of life

Quality of Life Research
Philipp Jehn, Philippe Korn, Nils-Claudius Gellrich, Alexander-Nicolai Zeller, Michael-Tobias Neuhaus, Frank Tavassol, Rüdiger Zimmerer, Gertrud Krüskemper, Simon Spalthoff
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-020-02616-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Surgical therapy for oral cancer can lead to severe physical and psychological disorders that negatively impact patient quality of life (QoL). This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between fulfillment of patients’ information needs during oral cancer treatment and patients’ perception of posttherapeutic disorders influencing QoL.


A retrospective analysis of 1359 patients who were surgically treated for oral cancer using questionnaires administered during the multicenter rehabilitation study by the German–Austrian–Swiss Cooperative Group on Tumors of the Maxillofacial Region (DÖSAK). Patients and medical practitioners completed questionnaires following cancer treatment.


Approximately 37% of patients felt inadequately informed about possible physical and psychological consequences of surgery. In contrast, only 16% of patients felt they were given inadequate information about the operative procedure and possible complications, and with regard to tumor diagnosis and cancer disease, only 15% of patients. Significant correlations were found between lacking information and increased perception of posttherapeutic disorders, whereas correlations with tumor-specific and operation-related parameters were markedly lower. The patients with superior QoL after treatment stated more frequently, nearly independent of individual patient characteristics, that the information that they were given prior to therapy was adequate. Information concerning possible physical and psychological consequences of an operation, however, was frequently stated to be inadequate, independent of QoL.


Patients whose information needs concerning the diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer are adequately fulfilled may benefit in terms of their therapeutic outcome, experiencing less perception of posttherapeutic physical and psychological disorders and a superior QoL.

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