Downsides of being well-informed: Tracking and preventing chemotherapy-related cognitive problems in breast cancer patients
Although treatment-related information may help patients make an informed decision, and take away worries and doubts, it may also have downsides. Recent studies show that merely informing (ex) breast cancer patients about the link between chemotherapy and cognitive deficits prior to completing a memory test and questionnaire resulted in reduced memory ability and increased cognitive problem reporting. An explanation for this ‘information effect’ may be derived from nocebo research, but also from social psychological research on stereotype threat.
Wendy Jacobs will present findings about the occurrence of these side effects from her PhD project, which looks at the outcomes of informing breast cancer patients about the cognitive side effects of chemotherapy. The project examines how to inform patients best about cognitive side effects of treatment and how to prevent or diminish adverse information-effects. Findings from previous cross-sectional studies are extended to: 1) examine the severity and duration of side effects, 2) examine underlying mechanisms and risk factors, and 3) test how these effects can be prevented.
Wendy Jacobs is a visitor to CSRH and PhD candidate from Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. She is part of the international HealthNar network and has obtained degrees in communication studies and educational psychology. Wendy is interested in health communication, health psychology, cancer and cognition, and social psychology.