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08.01.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2018 Open Access

Supportive Care in Cancer 6/2018

A national study of the unmet needs of support persons of haematological cancer survivors in rural and urban areas of Australia

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 6/2018
Marita C. Lynagh, A. Williamson, K. Bradstock, S. Campbell, M. Carey, C. Paul, F. Tzelepis, R. Sanson-Fisher



This study aimed to compare support persons of haematological cancer survivors living in rural and urban areas in regard to the type, prevalence and factors associated with reporting unmet needs.


One thousand and four (792 urban and 193 rural) support persons of adults diagnosed with haematological cancer were recruited from five Australian state population-based cancer registries. Participants completed the Support Person Unmet Needs Survey (SPUNS) that assessed the level of unmet needs experienced over the past month across six domains.


Overall, 66% of support persons had at least one ‘moderate, high or very high’ unmet need and 24% (n = 182) reported having multiple (i.e. 6 or more) ‘high/very high’ unmet needs in the past month. There were no significant differences between rural and urban support persons in the prevalence of multiple unmet needs or mean total unmet needs scores. There were however significant differences in the types of ‘high/very high’ unmet needs with support persons living in rural areas more likely to report finance-related unmet needs. Support persons who indicated they had difficulty paying bills had significantly higher odds of reporting multiple ‘high/very high’ unmet needs.


This is the first large, population-based study to compare the unmet needs of support persons of haematological cancer survivors living in rural and urban areas. Findings confirm previous evidence that supporting a person diagnosed with haematological cancer correlates with a high level of unmet needs and highlight the importance of developing systemic strategies for assisting support persons, especially in regard to making financial assistance and travel subsidies known and readily accessible to those living in rural areas.

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