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Keywords:

  • unmet needs;
  • supportive care;
  • rural;
  • cancer;
  • oncology

Abstract

Providing for patients' psychosocial needs is a potential means of minimising cancer morbidity. Needs assessments can guide responsive patient-centred care. A longitudinal survey of women with early breast cancer consulting a breast nurse in a primarily rural state of Australia was undertaken to measure unmet supportive care needs, identify changes in unmet needs across time and compare results with previous studies. Needs assessments were completed with the Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS) at 1 month (n = 74) and 3 months (n = 83) post-diagnosis. Access to services was also examined. High levels of psychological and health system and information needs were identified at 1 month post-diagnosis, but these decreased significantly at 3 months post-diagnosis. Sexuality domain needs increased significantly during the same time. Compared to a previous SCNS study of rural women with breast cancer, unmet supportive care needs in this study were significantly lower than previously reported, although assistance with energy levels (i.e. fatigue) continues to be an unmet need for women with breast cancer. Results suggest there have been positive cultural changes within healthcare systems, specifically in better informing patients and providing support. Although services appear to be more responsive to breast cancer patients, significant unmet needs still exist. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.