Predictors of change in unmet supportive care needs in cancer

M E McDowell, S Occhipinti, M Ferguson, J Dunn, S K Chambers
Psycho-oncology 2010, 19 (5): 508-16

OBJECTIVE: Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) assessments can assist health professionals to tailor their health practices to the individual needs of patients and improve patient care over time. The present study assessed prospective predictors of unmet supportive care needs in cancer patients over a six-month period.

METHODS: Participants were recruited from a regional cancer treatment centre in Australia and completed the Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS) at recruitment (n=439; 61.4% response rate) and six months follow-up (n=396). Hierarchical logistic regression was used to identify predictors of change in unmet needs across each supportive care domain. Predictor variables were socio-demographic, treatment and psychosocial factors including depression, anxiety, social support, and patient satisfaction.

RESULTS: Unmet needs were reported by approximately two-thirds of patients at baseline and half of patients at six months follow-up. Having unmet needs at baseline was the strongest predictor of unmet needs at six months. Longer time since diagnosis was a consistent predictor of greater unmet needs, associated with change in physical/daily living, psychological and health system and information unmet needs over time. By contrast, a complex relationship was found in that patient satisfaction, psychosocial and treatment characteristics predicted higher needs in some domains and lower needs in others.

CONCLUSIONS: Unmet supportive care needs persist over time and psychological needs may emerge later in the illness continuum. Interventions to meet the needs of longer term cancer survivors are needed and should closely articulate with reported supportive care needs.


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