Current organisation of follow-up does not meet cancer patients' needs

Dan Med J. 2014 Jun;61(6):A4855.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / standards
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult