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Adult palliative care in the USA: information-seeking behaviour patterns
  1. Brian T Cheng and
  2. Joshua M Hauser
  1. Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Brian T Cheng, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA; brian.cheng{at}


Objective Acceptance of palliative care (PC) in the USA has increased in recent decades with the growing number of recommendations for adoption from professional organisations. However, there are prevalent public misperceptions of PC that may prevent broader utilisation. This study seeks to identify the primary sources for PC information, which may help identify sources of misperception and improve PC messaging.

Methods We analysed the 2018 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), a representative survey of USA population knowledge regarding cancer-related information. This is the first iteration to include questions on PC. Prevalence of preferred PC information sources was estimated; multivariable logistic regression invoking stepwise variable selection was used to determine associations with information-seeking behaviour.

Results Our study cohort consisted of 1127 American adults who were familiar with PC. Overall, 59.3% and 34.0% relied primarily on healthcare providers and internet or printed media, respectively. In stepwise regression models of seeking information from healthcare providers, predictors and their relative contributions to the multivariable model were higher education attainment (58.7%), age ≥60 years (21.5%) and female sex (15.0%). Higher income was the most robust predictor (35.1%) of reliance on internet and printed media for information, followed by being currently married (26.2%).

Conclusions Overall, American adults rely on healthcare providers and media for PC information, with significant sociodemographic differences in information-seeking behaviour. These findings may be used to inform strategies to promote accurate PC awareness.

  • palliative care
  • knowledge
  • epidemiology
  • information sharing
  • survey

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  • Contributors BC designed and conceptualised the study, conducted the statistical analysis, interpreted the results, drafted the initial manuscript and contributed critical revisions to the manuscript. JH designed and conceptualised the study, interpreted the results and contributed critical revisions to the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The data that support the findings of this study are available from the Health Information National Trends Survey, published by the National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. Data are available upon reasonable request from the authors in compliance with the data use agreement.