Emotional distress and unmet supportive care needs in survivors of breast cancer beyond the end of primary treatment
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Cancer patient survival rates are rapidly growing, and further data are needed on the impact of the disease beyond diagnosis and treatment phases. The aims of this study were to analyze the prevalence and sociodemographic and medical risk factors of clinical distress. Additionally, we also explore the relationship between unmet psychosocial needs and both clinical distress and subgroups of survival periods.
A cross-sectional study of 450 women who at least 1 month before had completed the primary treatment for breast cancer was conducted. The Brief Symptom Inventory 18 and the Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs measure were used.
One in four women showed clinical distress related to unmet psychosocial needs. None of the sociodemographic and medical predictors was associated with clinical distress. Needs focused on the possibility of recurrence and its cognitive-emotional impact were the most frequent. Needs tended to decrease through periods of survival; however, there was a considerable level of unmet needs even among long-term survivors.
The findings highlight the relevance of extending psychosocial care beyond the breast cancer primary medical treatment. Early and regular screen for distress and unmet supportive needs permits to identify high-risk groups that likely benefit from targeted preventive interventions.
KeywordsBreast cancer Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs measure Emotional distress Psycho-oncology Survivorship Supportive care needs
The authors are thankful to the participants and staff of collaborative centers for their cooperation: Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología, Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia; Hospital General de Albacete, Hospital Perpetuo Socorro de Albacete; Hospital Rio Ortega de Valladolid, Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer de Valencia y Albacete; Asociación “Vivir como antes” en Valencia; Asociación de Mujeres Afectadas de Cáncer de Mama y Ginecológico de Albacete; Associació pel suport i ajuda en el tractament del càncer of L’Alcoia i El Comtat; and Associació pel suport i ajuda en el tractament del cancer of Castalla.
This research was funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Government of Spain (PSI2013-45905-R).
Compliance with ethical standards
The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Institutions.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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