Unmet needs of gynaecological cancer survivors: implications for developing community support services

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After treatment completion, gynaecological cancer survivors may face long-term challenges and late effects, specific to this disease. Available research on supportive care needs of women with gynaecological cancer is limited. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and correlates of unmet needs within a population of gynaecological cancer survivors. Eight hundred and two women participated in a population-based mail survey in 2004 (56% response rate). The questionnaire included a validated instrument to assess 45 need items across multiple supportive care domains, and a range of measures to evaluate related correlates consistent with a social-ecological perspective. Forty-three per cent of respondents reported having at least one moderate- or high-level unmet need. The five highest included needing help with fear about the cancer spreading (17%), concerns about the worries of those close to them (15%), uncertainty about the future (14%), lack of energy/tiredness (14%), and not being able to do things they used to do (14%). Subgroups of women with higher odds of reporting ‘some’ unmet needs across multiple supportive care domains include those who, are not in remission, live with lymphoedema or are unable to work due to illness. Odds were also higher for women who had undergone more recent treatment, and who lived in rural or remote locations. Further assistance with the top specific concerns of gynaecological cancer survivors is recommended. Identified subgroups with higher needs are important targets for support.

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