What should a support program for people with lung cancer look like? Differing attitudes of patients and support group facilitators

J Thorac Oncol. 2010 Aug;5(8):1227-32. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181e004b2.


Introduction: Patients with lung cancer have higher levels of unmet need for psychosocial support than those with other cancers. However, uptake of existing support programs by patients with lung cancer is low. We explored this issue by seeking the views of patients and support group facilitators.

Methods: Surveys of a convenience sample of 100 patients with lung cancer and all support group facilitators registered with Cancer Council Victoria (n = 145) were performed. Respondents were asked about preferred content, location, running, and potential barriers to attendance of a lung cancer support program.

Results: The response rate from facilitators was 51%. Fifty-three percent of patients reported willingness to attend a support program, although only 12% had previously attended a group. Patients showed a preference for any program to be held at a hospital (p = 0.01), whereas facilitators preferred a community setting (p < 0.001). Patients preferred facilitation by a health professional, rather than a volunteer p < 0.001), whereas facilitators preferred a volunteer. Patients preferred sessions primarily focused on cancer information provision rather than emotional support, whereas facilitators rated emotional support as highly as cancer information. Overall, patients perceived fewer barriers to attendance than facilitators. Both agreed that a group environment, discussing their cancer, parking, and travel were barriers to attendance.

Conclusions: Disparities in the views of patients and facilitators about the preferred location, type of facilitator, and content of a support program may in part explain the poor uptake of existing support programs by patients with lung cancer and should be considered in the design of future programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Self-Help Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / psychology*