The psychosocial needs of breast cancer survivors; a qualitative study of the shared and unique needs of younger versus older survivors

Psychooncology. 2004 Mar;13(3):177-89. doi: 10.1002/pon.710.


Due to improvements in medical treatment and survival following breast cancer, researchers have turned their attention to investigating the needs of breast cancer survivors. There is disagreement about the extent to which survivors continue to experience psychological morbidity after treatment ends. Whilst the majority of women adjust well to breast cancer, some may have continued psychosocial needs. Available research suggests that younger pre-menopausal women are at increased risk of psychological morbidity following breast cancer. The present study aimed to gather preliminary qualitative data on the psychosocial needs of breast cancer survivors and to identify the shared and unique needs of younger versus older survivors. A qualitative methodology was chosen as this was a relatively unexplored area of enquiry. Patients treated for early-stage breast cancer who had completed their hospital-based treatment 6-24 months prior to participation were recruited. Sampling was discontinued when informational redundancy was achieved. Eighteen telephone interviews were conducted. A wide variety of on-going psychosocial and information needs were reported by breast cancer survivors including support needs, psychological needs, practical needs, physical needs and information needs. Younger women reported more needs than their older counterparts. Several needs reported by younger women were directly related to being of younger age or pre-menopausal at the time of diagnosis. Clinical implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Social Support*
  • Survivors / psychology*