Awareness of Disease Status Among Patients With Cancer: An Integrative Review

Catherine S Finlayson, William E Rosa, Shiyon Mathew, Allison Applebaum, Allison Squires, Mei R Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: As the quality of cancer care improves, oncology patients face a rapidly increasing number of treatment options. Thus, it is vital that they are full and active partners in the treatment decision-making process. Awareness of disease status has been investigated in the literature; it has been inconsistently conceptualized and operationalized.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this integrative review was to develop a conceptual definition and model of the awareness of disease status among patients with cancer.

METHODS: Whittemore and Knafl's integrative review methodology guided this article. We obtained data through a systematic search of 8 databases. Key terms utilized were awareness, perception, truth disclosure, diagnosis, prognosis, terminal illness, status, neoplasm, and metastasis. Dates through January 2020 were searched to capture all relevant articles. Sixty-nine articles met inclusion criteria.

RESULTS: The integrative review methodology guided the development of a conceptual definition and model. The concept of "awareness of disease status" was defined as the individual patient's understanding of being diagnosed and treated for cancer based on the multifactorial components of individual patient characteristics and contextually driven communication practices of healthcare providers. This understanding is dynamic and changes throughout the disease trajectory.

CONCLUSION: These findings will inform consistency in the literature. Such consistency may improve person-centered clinical communication, care planning practices, and, ultimately, cancer-related outcomes.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: With a greater understanding of the complexity of patients' awareness of disease status, nurses will be able to guide their patients to make informed decisions throughout their disease trajectory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCancer Nursing
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jan 16 2023


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