Psychological distress and unmet supportive care needs in cancer patients and carers who contact cancer helplines

Chambers, S. K. and Girgis, A. and Occhipinti, S. and Hutchison, S. and Turner, J. and Morris, B. and Dunn, J. ORCID: (2012) Psychological distress and unmet supportive care needs in cancer patients and carers who contact cancer helplines. European Journal of Cancer Care, 21 (2). pp. 213-223. ISSN 0961-5423


Cancer information services are a highly accessible source of support for people affected by cancer. To date the nature and extent of distress experienced by such callers and their unmet support needs have not been well described. A cross-sectional survey of 354 cancer patients and 336 carers who reported elevated distress on contact with a cancer information service assessed socio-demographic variables; anxiety, depression and somatization; unmet supportive care needs; cancer-specific distress; presenting problems; post-traumatic growth. Adjustment to cancer was most commonly reported; followed by anxiety. In all, 53.4% of patients and 45.2% of carers reached caseness in anxiety, depression or somatization. Carers had higher distress ratings and intrusive thinking compared to patients; whereas patients had higher somatization. For patients, most unmet supportive care needs were psychological; for carers unmet needs were related to health care services and information related to the person diagnosed with cancer. Being single, unemployed, in treatment, having higher initial distress scores, higher intrusion and avoidance predicted poorer outcomes. Information service frameworks should include distress screening and clear triage and referral processes for psychological care.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 01:44
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2017 01:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cancer; Intervention; Psychological distress; Supportive care needs; Telephone information service;
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420599 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
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