Change of Uncertainty in Illness and Unmet Care Needs in Patients With Recurrent Hepatocellular Carcinoma During Active Treatment

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Uncertainty about or related to cancer-related treatment and prognosis is commonly experienced by patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and might be associated with unmet care needs. However, their dynamic associations have not been examined in this population.


The aim of this study was to explore change in unmet care needs and uncertainty under different levels of uncertainty (low vs high) before discharge and the significant factors related to change of uncertainty in patients with recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma after treatment.


A set of questionnaires was used to collect data including symptom distress, supportive care needs, and uncertainty of illness before discharge (T0), 1 month after discharge (T1), and 2 months after discharge (T2). The significant factors related to uncertainty were identified by generalized estimating equations.


The patients with high uncertainty, who were younger in age, had significantly higher levels of symptom distress and unmet care needs. Before discharge, the patients’ highest levels of unmet needs were psychological in the high-uncertainty group. Patients with jobs, higher unmet care needs, and high uncertainty before discharge had higher levels of uncertainty over time.


The changes in uncertainty were significantly associated with unmet care needs over time, and the baseline level of uncertainty was a significant factor related to the change of uncertainty.

Implications for Practice:

Healthcare providers should take into account each individual’s age, levels of psychological need, and symptom distress and should offer personalized information related to psychological needs and symptom management to decrease levels of uncertainty before discharge.

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