Background: Patient education and psychosocial support to patients are important elements of comprehensive cancer care, but the needs of thyroid cancer survivors are not well understood.
Methods: The published English-language quantitative literature on (i) unmet medical information and (ii) psychosocial support needs of thyroid cancer survivors was systematically reviewed. A librarian information specialist searched seven electronic databases and a hand search was conducted. Two reviewers independently screened citations from the electronic search and reviewed relevant full-text papers. There was consensus between reviewers on the included papers, and duplicate independent abstraction was performed. The results were summarized descriptively.
Results: A total of 1984 unique electronic citations were screened, and 51 full-text studies were reviewed (three from the hand search). Seven cross-sectional, single-arm, survey studies were included, containing data from 6215 thyroid cancer survivor respondents. The respective study sizes ranged from 57 to 2398 subjects. All of the studies had some methodological limitations. Unmet information needs were variable relating to the disease, diagnostic tests, treatments, and co-ordination of medical care. There were relatively high unmet information needs related to aftercare (especially long-term effects of the disease or its treatment and its management) and psychosocial concerns (including practical and financial matters). Psychosocial support needs were incompletely met. Patient information on complementary and alternative medicine was very limited.
Conclusions: In conclusion, thyroid cancer survivors perceive many unmet information needs, and these needs extend to aftercare. Psychosocial information and supportive care needs may be insufficiently met in this population. More work is needed to improve knowledge translation and psychosocial support for thyroid cancer survivors.