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Health Serv Res. 1992 August; 27(3): 337–360.
PMCID: PMC1069882

Determinants of need and unmet need among cancer patients residing at home.


De-hospitalization of cancer treatment, particularly for those with advanced disease, can complicate adjustment and strain the capacity of caregiver networks to meet patients' daily needs. Outpatient staff should be able to recognize patients who need help to meet their daily needs as well as those who are not getting enough help. This study describes the physiological and social determinants of need and unmet need for assistance among 629 cancer patients with advanced disease initiating a course of outpatient chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Areas of needs examined through telephone interviews with participating patients were: personal care, instrumental tasks (housework, shopping, and cooking), and transportation. Physiological factors (metastases, disease stage, and functional status) were associated with need for assistance in all three areas. Also, older age (over 65) and low income predicted need for help with personal care, and women were more likely than men to report illness-related need for assistance with instrumental tasks and transportation. Unmet need was primarily associated with patients' social support system (e.g., children living nearby and perceived resiliency of network helpers). These findings highlight the need for outpatient staff to evaluate patients' informal care resources as well as patients' symptoms and impairments in deciding who should be referred for home care services.

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Selected References

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