Objective: The short form of the Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS-SF34) is a 34-item instrument for assessing the perceived needs of people diagnosed with cancer. This research is aimed at developing a brief screening tool for administration to patients in the clinical setting, by identifying the minimum number and optimal combination of item(s) to measure each of the SCNS-SF34 domains with high sensitivity and specificity.
Methods: Secondary analyses were undertaken on data from 1458 patients at 12 major public cancer treatment centres in Australia; with a random sample of 67% (n = 977) of the patient records selected as the developmental sample for developing the screening tool, while the remaining 33% (n = 481) constituted the validation sample on which analyses were repeated. Five criteria were applied to identify the optimum subset of items for the screening tool. Where statistical results were very similar across candidate item/s, items deemed more clinically important were chosen.
Results: Nine items were identified, which can be efficiently and reliably used as a brief screening tool (SCNS-ST9). An overall comparison of the results on the SCNS-ST9 with the original SCNS-SF34 indicates that only 11% of people reporting at least one moderate/high need on any SCNS-SF34 domain were missed as having a moderate/high need on the SCNS-ST9.
Conclusions: Our very brief screening tool can be implemented in a clinical setting to reliably screen for unmet needs among cancer patients, with considerable savings in time and expense, increasing its potential for wide-scale adoption in clinical settings. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.