Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 823–831 | Cite as

Can models of self-management support be adapted across cancer types? A comparison of unmet self-management needs for patients with breast or colorectal cancer

  • Elise MansfieldEmail author
  • Lisa Mackenzie
  • Mariko Carey
  • Kerry Peek
  • Jan Shepherd
  • Tiffany-Jane Evans
Original Article



There is an increased focus on supporting patients with cancer to actively participate in their healthcare, an approach commonly termed ‘self-management’. Comparing unmet self-management needs across cancer types may reveal opportunities to adapt effective self-management support strategies from one cancer type to another. Given that breast and colorectal cancers are prevalent, and have high survival rates, we compared these patients’ recent need for help with self-management.


Data on multiple aspects of self-management were collected from 717 patients with breast cancer and 336 patients with colorectal cancer attending one of 13 Australian medical oncology treatment centres.


There was no significant difference between the proportion of patients with breast or colorectal cancer who reported a need for help with at least one aspect of self-management. Patients with breast cancer were significantly more likely to report needing help with exercising more, while patients with colorectal cancer were more likely to report needing help with reducing alcohol consumption. When controlling for treatment centre, patients who were younger, experiencing distress or had not received chemotherapy were more likely to report needing help with at least one aspect of self-management.


A substantial minority of patients reported an unmet need for self-management support. This indicates that high-quality intervention research is needed to identify effective self-management support strategies, as well as implementation trials to identify approaches to translating these strategies into practice. Future research should continue to explore whether self-management support strategies could be adapted across cancer types.


Self-management Needs Breast cancer Colorectal cancer Bowel cancer 



This research was supported by a Hunter Medical Research Institute Pink Frangipani Grant (ID 13-20), a National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant (1010536), a Cancer Council NSW Behavioural Science Strategic Research Partnership Grant (CSR11-02), and Hunter Medical Research Institute infrastructure funding. Dr. Lisa Mackenzie is funded by a Postdoctoral Fellowship grant (PF-16-011) from the Australian National Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr. Mariko Carey is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Translation of Research Into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship (ID 1073031). Kerry Peek is supported by a University of Newcastle Postgraduate Research Scholarship—Central 50:50. Jan Shepherd is supported by a University of Newcastle/Hunter Cancer Research Alliance Postgraduate Research Scholarship 50:50.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

520_2017_3896_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 13 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Behaviour Research Collaborative, School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Public Health/HBRG, HMRI BuildingUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Priority Research Centre for Health BehaviourUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  3. 3.Hunter Medical Research InstituteNew Lambton HeightsAustralia
  4. 4.Clinical Research Design and Statistics Support UnitHunter Medical Research InstituteNew LambtonAustralia

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