The prevalence of unmet needs in 625 women living beyond a diagnosis of early breast cancer
Background: There are over half a million women with a previous breast cancer diagnosis living in the UK. It is important to establish their level of unmet physical and psychosocial needs, as many are not routinely seen for follow-up under current models of care.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of early breast cancer survivors entering an Open Access Follow-Up (OAFU) programme in 2015. Unmet needs were assessed using the Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) or extracted directly from the electronic patient record (EPR), when the HNA had not been completed.
Results: Six hundred and twenty-five patients were eligible. Sixty-one per cent of the survivors had at least one unmet need and 18% had ≥5 needs. Consistently higher levels of unmet needs were identified using the formal HNA checklist as opposed to extraction from EPR (P<0.001). Physical and emotional needs were the most frequently reported (55 and 24% respectively). Patients receiving endocrine therapy and those who had received chemotherapy were more likely to report unmet needs (both P<0.001).
Conclusions: Unmet physical and emotional needs are common in breast cancer survivors. It is vital that the services are available for these patients as they transition from hospital-based follow-up to patient-led self-management models of care.