Identifying the most prevalent unmet needs of cancer survivors in Australia: A systematic review

Cancer survivors in Australia are suffering from a wide variety of unmet needs. To optimise survivorship care, it is vital that the needs of cancer survivors are better understood. However, despite the increase in advocacy of person-centred care tailored to the needs of the individual, survivorship care standards do not yet reflect this ideal, as the unmet needs of cancer survivors and the gap between their needs and current service provision is not well understood. This systematic review identified 17 studies which looked at the unmet needs of cancer survivors. A broad range of unmet needs were identified and ranked by the number of times a need was identified by the included studies. Some of the top unmet needs were psychosocial: fear of cancer recurrence (identified in 14 studies by a range of 14-42% of participants), uncertainty about the future (9 studies, up to 26%), and a need for help reducing stress (8 studies, up to 34%). Survivors also reported issues such as lack of information regarding support services (7 studies, 11-33%), uncertainty about coordination of care and communication between care providers (6 studies, 15-31%), lack of peer support (6 studies, 13-26%), and limitations carrying out usual activities (6 studies. 13-27%). The review also examined correlates of unmet needs. The results showed that unmet needs correlated significantly with anxiety, depression and lower quality of life. The implementation of a comprehensive and routine patient needs assessment is vital to supporting cancer survivors. Read full text
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