• Relationships between unmet needs, depression and anxiety in non-advanced cancer patients

      Ferrari, Martina; Ripamonti, Carla I; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Miccinesi, Guido; University of Chester; Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milano, Italy; ISPO Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Florence, Italy (Wichtig Publishing, 2018-04-16)
      Introduction: In oncology settings, less attention is given to patients’ unmet need and to existential and emotional distress, compared to physical symptoms. We aimed to evaluate correlations between unmet needs and emotional distress (self-reported anxiety and depression) in a consecutive cohort of cancer patients. The influence of socio- demographic and clinical factors was also considered. Methods: Three hundred cancer patients recruited from an out-patient Supportive Care Unit of a Comprehensive Cancer Centre completed the Need Evaluation Questionnaire (NEQ) and the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS). Unmet needs covered five distinct domains (informational, care/assistance, relational, psycho-emotional and material). Results: After removal of missing data, we analysed data from 258 patients. Need for better information on future health concerns (42%), better services from the hospital (43%), and to speak with individuals in the same condition (31%) were the most frequently reported as unmet. Based on the ESAS, 27.2% and 17.5% of patients respectively had a score of anxiety or depression > 3 and needed further examination for psychological distress. Female patients had significantly higher scores for anxiety (p<.001) and depression (p=.008) compared to males. Unmet needs were significantly correlated with both anxiety (rs=.283) and depression (rs=.284). Previous referral to a psychologist was significantly associated with depression scores (p=.015). Results were confirmed by multiple regression analysis. Conclusions: Screening for unmet needs whilst also considering socio-demographic and clinical factors, allows early identification of cancer patients with emotional distress. Doing so will enable optimal management of psychological patient-reported outcomes in oncology settings.