OBJECTIVES - To determine the role of information sources in the treatment decision-making process of men diagnosed with local stage prostate cancer. Diagnosed men have access to a large number of information sources about therapy, including print and broadcast media, the Internet, books, and friends with the disease.
METHODS - Prospective survey of men with local stage prostate cancer in 3 geographically separate regions was carried out. Most men were surveyed after diagnosis but before starting therapy.
RESULTS - On average, men with local prostate cancer consulted nearly 5 separate sources of information before treatment. The most common source of information was the patient's physician (97%), followed by lay-literature (pamphlets, videos) (76%), other health professionals (71%), friends with prostate cancer (67%), and the Internet (58%). Most men rated the sources they consulted as helpful. Consulting the Internet was associated with considering more treatment options. Several information sources were significantly associated with considering particular treatments, but the magnitude of association was small in relation to patient age, comorbidity, and Gleason score. More than 70% of men stated that they were considering or planning only one type of therapy.
CONCLUSIONS - Men with local stage prostate cancer consult a wide range of information sources. Nonphysician information sources appear to influence their treatment considerations, but to a smaller degree than clinical factors.