Patients perceptions of what may have caused their cancer: A cross-sectional investigation of Vietnamese radiotherapy cancer patients (#66)
Aims: Identify patient beliefs as to what factors may have contributed to the development of their cancer.
Method: A cross-sectional, interview survey study was undertaken with adult (aged ≥20 years) Vietnamese cancer patients, presenting for at least their second radiotherapy treatment session at one cancer hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. Patients completed a standardised interview survey, which included a 26-item module assessing patient’s perceptions of factors that may have caused their cancer. Items ranged from known evidence-base causes (i.e. smoking, sun exposure) to non-evidence base beliefs (e.g. stress or anxiety, physical injury or trauma). Participants responded to each item using a Likert scale ranging from 1 “absolutely did not contribute”, to 4 “absolutely contributed;” an “unknown” option was also included. Consenting patients were reimbursed 100,000 Vietnamese Dong (approximately $Aus5) for their time. A comparative pen-and-paper survey study is currently underway in Australia.
Preliminary results: 319 eligible patients were approached, and 300 consented to take part (consent rate=94%). Over half of respondents were male (54%, n=163) and almost all were currently married (92%, n=276). The mean age was 52 years (SD=11.7). The most commonly reported cancer was ‘other’ (71%, n=212), followed by lung (14%, n=41) and breast (13%, n=38). “Air pollution” (35%; n=102), “unhealthy food” (34%; n=100), “pesticides” (31%; n=88), “unfortunate fate” (29%; n=84) and “preservative/food additives” (27%; n=77) were the five most highly endorsed items by patients as ‘absolutely contributing’ to the development of their cancer.Conclusions: Patient perceptions of the causes of their cancer could be used to improve patient education and cancer prevention, by targeting information towards patient beliefs and misconceptions. This study suggests that Vietnamese cancer patients may benefit from reliable information explaining the relationship between environmental factors and the development of different cancers. Potential strategies to reduce people’s exposure to such environmental factors may also be beneficial.