Unmet needs in immigrant cancer survivors: a cross-sectional population-based study
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- Butow, P.N., Bell, M.L., Aldridge, L.J. et al. Support Care Cancer (2013) 21: 2509. doi:10.1007/s00520-013-1819-2
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Social suffering, language difficulties, and cultural factors may all make the cancer experience more difficult for immigrants. This study aimed to document unmet needs, and variables associated with these, in a population-based sample of first-generation immigrants and Anglo-Australians who had survived cancer.
Participants were recruited via Australian cancer registries. Eligible cancer survivors had a new diagnosis 1–6 years earlier and were aged between 18 and 80 years at diagnosis. Eligible immigrant participants and parents were born in a country where Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and other dialects), or Greek is spoken, and they spoke one of these languages. A random sample of English-speaking Anglo-Australian-born controls was recruited.
Five hundred ninety-six patients (277 immigrants) were recruited to the study (response rate, 26 %). Compared to Anglo-Australians, the adjusted odds ratio of Chinese immigrants for at least one unmet information/support need was 5.1 (95 % CI 3.1, 8.3) and for any unmet physical need was 3.1 (95 % CI 1.9, 5.1). For Greek, these were 2.0 (95 % CI 1.1, 4.0) and 2.7 (95 % CI 1.4, 5.2). Arabic patients had elevated, but not statistically significant, odds ratios compared to Anglo-Australians. Written information and having a specialist, support services, and other health professionals who spoke their language were in the top ten unmet needs amongst immigrants.
Immigrant cancer survivors, several years after initial diagnosis, are more likely to have an unmet need for information or for help with a physical problem than Anglo-Australians. They strongly desire information and support in their own language.