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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • patients;
  • perceived needs;
  • statistics;
  • supportive care

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and predictors of the perceived unmet needs of cancer patients undergoing treatment for their disease at public treatment centers.

METHODS

A total of 1492 consecutive patients attending the surgical, radiation, or medical oncology departments of 9 major public cancer treatment centers in New South Wales, Australia, were asked to participate. Of the 1370 eligible patients, 1354 (99%) consented to participate and 888 (65%) returned completed surveys. Eligible consenting patients were given a Supportive Care Needs Survey to complete at home and return by mail within 7 days.

RESULTS

Patients' perceived needs were assessed across the following five areas: psychologic, health system and information, physical and daily living, patient care and support, and sexuality. Patients' perceived needs were highest in the psychologic, health system and information, and physical and daily living domains. Logistic regression modeling revealed subgroups of patients with different types of needs. The significant predictors of reporting some unmet need for help varied according to the domain examined.

CONCLUSIONS

This statewide study shows that cancer patients experience high levels of unmet needs across the range of domains examined. The study provides information that may be valuable in identifying areas where interventions could be tested and evaluated in an attempt to address the unmet needs of people living with cancer. [See related article on pages 217–25, this issue.] Cancer 2000;88:225–36. © 2000 American Cancer Society.