Introduction: Although much has been reported on cancer information needs, the literature is scant on cancer pain information-related needs. This might be prohibiting understanding of complex experiences of pain and fulfilment of information needs. An exploratory review of research on cancer pain and information-related needs is used to make suggestions for future research. The review reports on research themes, research designs and research gaps.
Method: Key Library and Information Science, Healthcare and inter-disciplinary databases were searched for articles reporting on cancer pain and information-related needs. It is an exploratory review.
Analysis: Thematic analysis identified the following themes: people affected/studied, and the type, stage and care/treatment of cancer as well as care location. It also addressed the research designs including research approaches, research methods, means of data collection and sample sizes.
Results: Research on cancer pain and information-related needs are limited, scattered in terms of cancer type, stage, care/treatment and care location, and the research designs are often too compartmentalised and simplistic to fully appreciate the complexities of cancer pain and the difficulties in contextualising, recognising, expressing, acting-on / fulfilling, and re-assessing pain information-related needs.
Conclusion: Suggestions are offered for further research embracing the commitment for palliative care of cancer pain and ensuring quality of life, enhanced research designs, the need to address the issue of differing terminologies on a broader extent between disciplines and in a narrower context, between patients and healthcare practitioners, and to explore means to address the complexity of cancer pain and cancer pain information-related needs.
Keywords: Cancer; information needs; palliative care; pain; thematic analysis; terminology
Topic: Information behaviour and information practice