Men's information-seeking behavior regarding cancer risk and screening: A meta-narrative systematic review

Mohamad M. Saab, Mary Reidy, Josephine Hegarty, Mairin O'Mahony, Mike Murphy, Christian Von Wagner, Frances J. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Preventive strategies are known to reduce cancer risk and incidence and improve prognosis. Men seldom seek medical information about cancer prevention and risk reduction. The aim of this meta-narrative systematic review was to critically appraise evidence from qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies that explored men's information-seeking behaviors in relation to cancer prevention and risk reduction. Methods: MEDLINE, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, Education Full Text, and ERIC were systematically searched for studies published in English between January 1, 2006 and May 30, 2016. A total of 4117 titles were identified; of which, 31 studies were included (21 qualitative studies, 9 quantitative studies, and 1 mixed-methods study). The methodological quality of the studies was appraised by using different tools. Results: Most studies focused on screening for prostate (n = 18) and colorectal cancer (n = 7). Most men were passive information-gatherers rather than active information-seekers. Key sources of information included the Internet for active information-seekers and health care professionals for passive information-gatherers. Barriers to information-seeking included information overload, embarrassment, and fear. Low literacy and health literacy levels were addressed in 3 studies and were identified as impediments to active information-seeking. Facilitators to information-seeking included family support, media, celebrity endorsements, and targeted information. Conclusions: Men's information-seeking behavior regarding cancer risk reduction, prevention, and screening is influenced by several factors. This necessitates targeted interventions aimed at raising awareness of cancer prevention and screening, while accounting for men's informational needs, preferred learning strategies, and literacy levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-419
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • health literacy
  • information-seeking
  • men
  • oncology
  • prevention
  • prostate cancer
  • screening
  • systematic review


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