What are unmet needs for cancer patients and how are they measured?

Afaf Girgis, PhD, of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, gives an overview of her talk on unmet needs at the 2016 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference in Liverpool, UK. Prof. Girgis begins by explaining that the main purpose of assessing unmet needs is to better understand the specific issues that patients have, which they are not currently getting supported for. Unmet needs are different to satisfaction surveys where we can understand how satisfied patients are with services but which do not tell us if people still have unmet needs in particular areas. It is also different to quality of life measures, which tell doctors if there is an issue but not if people have particular needs. Therefore, unmet needs are very important and help find specific issues patients may have. She explains that in her talk, she covered ways to measure unmet needs by asking patients directly. Patients can give the level of need they have (low, moderate or high). Therefore, in a busy clinical environment with limited resources, the high unmet needs can be focused on first.

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