Aim. The purpose of this study was to investigate how women with newly diagnosed breast cancer experience their needs in a health-care context.
Design. A qualitative design, using a focus group, was used to identify women’s perceptions of needs.
Method. A group of seven women met six times over a period of 10 weeks during 2004. Meetings were audio-recorded, and the data were coded and analysed using Kvale’s methods of qualitative content analysis.
Findings. Women described experiences related to two categories of needs that influenced their ability to cope with changed life situations: the need for knowledge and the need for psychosocial support. These categories may be divided into three themes: knowledge and psychosocial support related to physical, emotional and social perspectives of daily living.
Conclusions. Findings suggest that health-care services provided by breast diagnostic centres should be based on requirements defined by women with breast cancer. In addition to medical treatment, services ought to meet women’s needs for knowledge and psychosocial support at the time of diagnosis, and during and after treatment. This study can provide nurses and other health professionals with a deeper understanding of women’s demands as they face challenges related to breast cancer.
Relevance for clinical practice. The findings from this study underline the need to include emotional and social perspectives in standards for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and can provide a foundation for the development of user-designed health services.