Introduction: For cancer patients, traditional follow-up care is considered unsuitable and unsustainable. The patient perspective seems often to be absent in the ongoing debate about alternative strategies for follow-up care. Based on a national survey from 2012, the objective of this study was to examine cancer patients' support needs regarding physiological and emotional problems during follow-up and to identify factors associated with their needs and any unmet needs.
Material and methods: Patients diagnosed with cancer in the period from April to September 2010 were invited to participate. A total of 4,401 patients responded (response rate = 64%). The risks in terms of prevalence rate ratios of having needs and unmet needs for both physiological and emotional problems were estimated using the Poisson regression.
Results: The study showed that 60% of the patients had needs for support regarding physiological and emotional problems, and half of the patients reported unmet needs. Younger patients and patients with co-morbidity were more likely to report needs and unmet needs for physiological and emotional support. Treatment complexity and setting of follow-up were not associated with unmet needs.
Conclusion: The study underlines that the current organisation of follow-up does not meet cancer patients' needs. Several factors are associated with both needs and unmet needs. Hence, a more sustainable approach for follow-up care may consist in stratification tailored to the patients' different needs. In such an approach, more focus should be on age-specific needs and the impact of co-morbidity.
Funding: The study is funded by the Danish Cancer Society.
Trial registration: The study was approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (J. no. 2010-41-4694). According to the Danish Act on Research Ethics Review of Health Research Projects (S. 8(3) of Act No. 402 of 28 May 2003), no ethical approval was needed.