Distress, concerns and unmet needs in survivors of head and neck cancer: A cross-sectional survey



Wells M, Cunningham M, Lang H, Swartzman S, Philp J, Taylor L & Thomson J (2015) Distress, concerns and unmet needs in survivors of head and neck cancer: A cross-sectional survey. European Journal of Cancer Care, 24, pp. 748-760.

The aim of this study was to identify the distress, unmet needs and concerns of head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors in the first 5years after treatment. Two hundred and eighty HNC survivors from three Scottish health boards responded to a cross-sectional postal survey in 2011. Questionnaires included the Distress Thermometer, Patient Concerns Inventory (PCI) and an adapted version of the PCI to measure unmet needs. One-third of the survivors had moderate or severe levels of distress, and 74% had at least one unmet need. The most common concerns and unmet needs included oral and eating problems, fear of recurrence and fatigue. Multivariate analysis revealed that being younger, out of work (not retired), ever having had a feeding tube fitted, having a greater number of comorbidities and living alone were associated with higher levels of distress, concerns and unmet needs. The diversity of concerns and unmet needs identified in this study highlights the importance of holistic needs assessment as part of follow-up care for HNC survivors with tailoring of support for particular concerns. Specific information resources and self-management strategies are required to help HNC survivors with the practical and functional consequences of HNC treatment.

unmet needs; concerns; head and neck cancer; survivors; Patient Concerns Inventory; Distress Thermometer

European Journal of Cancer Care: Volume 24

FundersMacmillan Cancer Support
Publication date30/09/2015
Publication date online07/08/2015
Date accepted by journal17/07/2015

People (2)


Dr Margaret Cunningham
Dr Margaret Cunningham

Research Fellow

Professor Mary Wells
Professor Mary Wells

Honorary Professor, NMAHP

Projects (1)

Unmet needs in head and neck cancer survivors