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The unmet supportive care needs of long-term head and neck cancer caregivers in the extended survivorship period

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp


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Aims and objectivesTo examine the unmet supportive care needs of long-term head and neck cancer caregivers, and the factors associated with those needs.BackgroundResearch on the unmet needs of head and neck cancer caregivers is lacking, particularly in the long-term survivorship period.DesignSurvey of 197 caregivers.MethodsThe study collected information on caregivers' demographic characteristics and their unmet supportive care needs (as measured by the Partners and Caregivers Supportive Care Needs Survey). An overall score of unmet need was generated, as were scores for four separate domains of unmet needs (emotional, health, information and work/social).ResultsSeventy six percentage of respondents were female, and 88% reported being married or living with a partner. Mean age was 57years. Most caregivers had low levels of unmet needs. Managing fears about the cancer recurring was the most commonly reported individual need, described by slightly more than one in five respondents. The highest levels of need were located in the emotional and the health services domains. Loneliness and financial stress were consistently and significantly associated with high levels of unmet need in the multivariable analysis.ConclusionsMost head and neck cancer caregivers appear to have low levels of unmet need in the extended survivorship period. The greatest levels of unmet need that are experienced occur in relation to emotional and health service domains. Needs diminish over time.Relevance to clinical practiceHealth professionals should be aware that a minority of long-term head and neck caregivers continue to experience strong fears of cancer recurrence. To reduce unmet needs across multiple domains, health professionals should seek to reduce caregivers' feelings of loneliness, and to assist caregivers to reduce the financial burdens that they experience as a result of long-term caring.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Balfe M, O'Brien K, Timmons A, Butow P, Sullivan EO, Gooberman-Hill R, Sharp L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Clinical Nursing

Year: 2016

Volume: 25

Issue: 11-12

Pages: 1576-1586

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Online publication date: 03/05/2016

Acceptance date: 05/11/2015

ISSN (print): 0962-1067

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2702

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/jocn.13140


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