The Unmet Psychosocial Needs of Haematological Cancer Patients and their Impact upon Psychological Wellbeing
AbstractUnmet psychosocial needs indicate a desire for additional support in cancer patients, having a direct clinical utility in directing the provision of supportive care. There is evidence in wider cancer groups that unmet needs relate to psychological wellbeing but this relationship has yet to be fully explored and factors that may explain or moderate this relationship yet to be examined. There has been little investigation of type or prevalence of unmet need in haematological cancer patients, however, haematological cancers are noteworthy for their high levels of associated distress. Understanding causality of distress is key to the effective implementation of supportive care services. This thesis aimed to highlight the unmet needs most relevant to haematological cancer patients and to explore their impact upon psychological wellbeing. This thesis comprises four interconnected research studies: a systematic review exploring existing knowledge of unmet needs; a qualitative exploration of patient experiences of unmet needs and their impact; a quantitative questionnaire study of unmet need and psychological wellbeing in newly diagnosed haematological cancer patients, placing a special emphasis on the difference between active treatment and watch and wait regimes; and, a second quantitative questionnaire study that explores unmet need, psychological wellbeing, and psychological flexibility as a potential moderator in their relationship in a sample of haematological cancer survivors. This thesis demonstrates a relationship between unmet need and psychological wellbeing in haematological cancer patients. Fear of recurrence, concerns about loved ones, being able to do the things you used to, and a need for information were all found to be of relevance. The qualitative study highlighted that patients feel that, as haematology patients, they are distinct from other cancer patients which impacts upon the perceived acceptability of support services and specific barriers to the accessing of support services are presented. Significant correlations between unmet need and key psychological outcomes such as anxiety, depression and quality of life were observed in both quantitative studies. In addition, the concept of psychological flexibility was found to moderate the relationship between unmet need and psychological wellbeing in haematological cancer survivors. This work has clear implications for both future research and clinical practice. Unmet needs assessment has the potential to be used as a screening tool for overall psychological wellbeing, a way to stratify and understand the specific causes of distress and poor quality of life for this patient group. In the UK, on-going support for cancer patients diminishes at the end of treatment, these findings suggest that further support is needed in order to meet the psychological needs of cancer survivors. Further research is needed to further explore the role of psychological flexibility in cancer-related distress: interventions that target psychological flexibility have the potential to improve both unmet need and distress.
CitationSwash, B. (2015). The unmet psychosocial needs of haematological cancer patients and their impact upon psychological wellbeing. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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