The importance of addressing unmet needs for both cancer patients and care givers

Afaf Girgis, PhD, of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, discusses unmet needs for cancer patients and care givers at the 2016 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference in Liverpool, UK. Prof. Girgis explains that research tells us that patients have a lot of psychological unmet needs and unmet needs for information. One of the biggest unmet need is dealing with the issue of cancer recurrence. Whether a patient is recently diagnosed or a long-term survivor, the issue of cancer recurrence comes up very strongly for people. There is a lot of developing research now to try and address that. The other unmet needs that are common are around information and psychological support. Furthermore, carers also have high levels of unmet needs. There has been research where carers needs have been looked at over time and what is seen is that early in the cancer journey, the carers unmet needs tend to focus around helping the patient, having sufficient information to assist the patient with their concerns, and worrying about how well the patient is coping with issues. As they go further from the diagnosis and treatment phase, the carers start to think about their own needs, such as people acknowledging the role they are playing as a carer and what impact it is having for themselves such as on their work and social environment. Prof. Girgis concludes by saying that understanding care givers unmet needs is very important for the healthcare system.

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