Paper Over PC? Patients Still Prefer Hand-Written Educational Materials

Regardless of education levels and internet access, patients with breast cancer prefer informative materials pertaining to their disease in written form over online resources, according to the findings of a study presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer at the University Texas Health San Antonio Mays Cancer Center participated in a 15-question survey, of which three questions assessed health literacy; patients were categorized as having high health literacy (HHL) or low health literacy (LHL). All patients were 21 years or older and planning to undergo mastectomy or lumpectomy for ductal carcinoma in situ stage I-III or prophylaxis. Patients with other cancers were not included. For their responses to be included in analysis, patients had to complete at least 90% of the survey.

For most patients, their preferred language was English (79.5%), followed by Spanish (17.9%). Most patients had HHL (79%). Most patients with LHL had high school level education (83%), and they were less likely than HHL patients to use the internet for healthcare information (28% vs. 69%; P<0.001). When adjusting for language, education, age, and cancer stage, no correlation was observed between owning a smartphone and having at-home internet access with using the internet for healthcare information. Across education levels, patients still preferred to receive information through printed materials (high school, 60.2%; college, 71.0%; P=0.581). Neither high school nor college level education groups preferred supplemental videos (79% and 89%, respectively; P=0.58). No relationship was observed between education level and the number of resources patients utilized to learn about their breast cancer and reconstructive options (Spearman correlation = 0.111).

The authors recommended: “As more healthcare information is being digitized, access to printed materials and traditional methods of education should still be available to avoid disparities in health education delivery.”