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NCRI 2016 | How can healthcare professionals identify unmet needs in cancer patients?

Afaf Girgis, PhD, of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia talks about ways to make unmet needs easier to identify by healthcare professionals at the 2016 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference in Liverpool, UK. She starts by explaining that If we go through assessing unmet needs in a clinical situation, for example through a recently developed e-health program where a link to a survey is sent to patients which they complete before coming to the clinic. This survey identifies issues such as distress, symptoms and unmet needs. This means that when the patients come to the healthcare professional, they can focus on those unmet needs and try and address the issues fairly readily rather than trying to guess what the issues of concern are for the patients. She explains that assessing unmet needs also means that we can tailor self-management information, for example if a patient identifies emotional concerns, they can be sent a link to information, which can help them with self-managing their own issues of concern. This allows them to take charge of their own care and feeling a bit more empowered. She says that the assessment of unmet needs helps address the issues in a number of different ways but across cancer services, collecting information about unmet needs routinely and over time, means that the gaps can be identified. Therefore, services can redirect their resources to better understand what the issues are and address those in a clinical setting as well.

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