What are cancer survivors' needs and how well are they being met?

J Fam Pract. 2014 Oct;63(10):E7-16.


Purpose: This study sought to identify the needs and unmet needs of the growing number of adult cancer survivors.

Methods: Vermont survivor advocates partnered with academic researchers to create a survivor registry and conduct a cross-sectional survey of cancer-related needs and unmet needs of adult survivors. The mailed survey addressed 53 specific needs in 5 domains based on prior research, contributions from the research partners, and pilot testing. Results were summarized by computing proportions who reported having needs met or unmet.

Results: Survey participants included 1668 of 2005 individuals invited from the survivor registry (83%); 65.7% were ages 60 or older and 61.9% were women. These participants had received their diagnosis 2 to 16 years earlier; 77.5% had been diagnosed ≥5 years previously; 30.2% had at least one unmet need in the emotional, social, and spiritual (E) domain; just 14.4% had at least one unmet need in the economic and legal domain. The most commonly identified individual unmet needs were in the E and the information (I) domains and included “help reducing stress” (14.8% of all respondents) and “information about possible after effects of treatment” (14.4%).

Conclusions: Most needs of these longerterm survivors were met, but substantial proportions of survivors identified unmet needs. Unmet needs such as information about late and long-term adverse effects of treatment could be met within clinical care with a cancer survivor care plan, but some survivors may require referral to services focused on stress and coping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Literacy* / methods
  • Health Literacy* / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Navigation* / methods
  • Patient Navigation* / standards
  • Primary Health Care* / methods
  • Primary Health Care* / organization & administration
  • Quality Improvement
  • Registries
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Survivors* / psychology
  • Survivors* / statistics & numerical data
  • Vermont / epidemiology