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What are the unmet needs of cancer survivors?
In a nutshell
This paper studied the unmet needs of cancer survivors.
Cancer survivors face unmet needs. These are needs which lack enough service or support for survivors to achieve optimal well-being. Understanding the needs of cancer survivors can help guide services and support to meet the needs of survivors.
Methods & findings
9,105 cancer survivors were surveyed on their cancer experience. They were asked the question: "Please tell us about any needs you have now as a cancer survivor that ARE NOT being met to your satisfaction" and could respond however they wanted. Their responses were analyzed and categorised under themes.
The results found that physical needs were most common (38.2% of survivors). These were needs affecting the body, including pain, symptoms, sexual dysfunction, diet, exercise, and rest. 20.3% of survivors reported financial problems. 19.5% of survivors had education and information needs which were related to unanswered questions and the lack of information about cancer. 16.4% of survivors had personal control problems, which were related to one's ability to maintain autonomy over one's body. 15.5% of survivors had needs related to the health care system. 13.8% had problems with access to supplies, medications and transportation services . 13.7% had emotional and mental health problems, and 12.7% had social support needs. 10% of survivors had problems with social norms, discrimination, misinformation, and policies. 8.5% had communication needs. 8.25% had problems relating to their relationship with healthcare workers.
The average overall number of unmet needs was 2.88. Breast cancer survivors had the highest average number of unmet needs. It is not sure whether this is because breast cancer survivors actually have more long-term cancer related needs than other cancer survivors or that they express more needs. The average number of needs declined with age.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that the needs of cancer survivors are important and should be researched further.
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