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Care needs after primary breast cancer treatment. Survivors' associated sociodemographic and medical characteristics

Authors

  • Evelyn E. J. Pauwels,

    Corresponding author
    • Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
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  • Caroline Charlier,

    1. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
    2. Faculty of Psychology, Open University of the Netherlands, the Netherlands
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  • Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij,

    1. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
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  • Lilian Lechner,

    1. Faculty of Psychology, Open University of the Netherlands, the Netherlands
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  • Elke Van Hoof

    1. Faculty of Psychological and Educational Sciences, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
    2. Belgian Cancer Center, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Belgium
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Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium.

E-mail: Evelyn.Pauwels@ugent.be

Abstract

Background

This study examines the care needs of rehabilitating breast cancer survivors and determines what sociodemographic and medical characteristics are associated with these care needs.

Methods

A large-scale cross-sectional study (n = 465, response rate = 65%) was conducted among survivors who had ended primary treatment less than 6 months previously. Questionnaires were completed regarding participants' care needs, how these needs were met and the time and manner preferred for receiving information and support. Care needs regarding seven specific rehabilitation topics were assessed separately: (1) physical functioning, (2) psychological functioning, (3) self and body image, (4) sexuality, (5) relationship with partner, (6) relationship with others, and (7) work, return to work and social security.

Results

High unmet needs were reported across all topics. The time preferred for receiving information and support across most topics was the period of breast cancer treatment. The most popular sources of information and support were informative brochures, consultation with a psychologist, information sessions and an informative website. Younger age and lower income were associated with care needs after treatment.

Conclusions

A valuable contribution is made to the literature on post-treatment care needs by comprehensively mapping unmet needs and the preferred time and source for meeting those needs. This study leads to greater awareness of the struggle facing breast cancer survivors and should guide those developing post-treatment interventions. As optimal tailoring to the needs of the target group is a prerequisite for success, preparatory needs assessment should be essential to the development of supportive interventions. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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