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Medical Libraries: A Resource in the Cancer Journey

Rutgers Cancer Institute’s Resource and Learning Center offers patient support
April 8, 2019

New Brunswick, N.J. – The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases in the U.S. in 2019, and New Jersey will see 53,400 new cases.  Many residents in the tri-state area will seek their medical care at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, or at one of its partner RWJBarnabas Health hospitals.

A cancer diagnosis can have an emotional as well as physical impact on patients and their families, including coping with an uncertain prognosis, making treatment decisions, and learning how to manage the many effects from the disease.  Providing educational information to patients with a cancer diagnosis improves patient satisfaction, stress management, mood, coping abilities, and communication (Padrons et al., 2016). 

Cancer patients may face challenges in obtaining appropriate and reliable information on their diagnosis and care.   Studies show that the benefits received from information seeking include greater patient involvement and satisfaction with medical decision making, improved communication with healthcare providers, and improved quality of life.  A patient's first source of cancer information is often from the healthcare providers or from information found on the internet (Rutten, et al., 2015).  As patients usually have little guidance on their internet searches, there is a chance for users to find inaccurate information.  As such, there is a need for accurate, evidence-based information that is easy to understand (Smits, et al., 2014). 

To meet the educational needs of patients at Rutgers Cancer Institute, the Resource and Learning Center (RLC) was developed. The vision of the RLC is to ensure patients, families and the community are provided access to appropriate evidence-based cancer information improving their healthcare decision making and lessening stress.  The RLC is staffed by a full time medical librarian who is able to provide information on treatment options, symptom management, alternative and complementary therapies, nutrition and support services.  The RLC website, cinj.org/rlc can be used as a starting point for a patient’s internet research. The medical librarian is also available to assist with questions regarding internet searches.

The Resource and Learning Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and can be reached at 732-235-9639 or cinj-rlc@cinj.rutgers.edu.

Janet Lasin, MLS, BS, is the medical librarian at Rutgers Cancer Institute’s Resource and Learning Center.

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