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29.11.2018 | Original Article

An explorative study on systematic assessment of QOL and care needs with the CARES-SF in the early follow-up of patients with digestive cancer

Supportive Care in Cancer
Bojoura Schouten, Dominiek De Jonckheere, Marc Aerts, Jochen Decaestecker, Daan Walgraeve, Patrick Vankrunkelsven, Johan Hellings
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00520-018-4565-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Systematic assessment of QOL and care needs was applied in two gastroenterology departments to support “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient.”


Patients with digestive cancer were asked to complete the Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System-Short Form (CARES-SF) at the start of treatment and 3 months later. Both times CARES data were processed, and summary reports on the retained insights were sent to the reference nurse for use in further follow-up of the patient. Patients’ and reference nurse’s experiences with the systematic CARES-assessment were explored with several survey questions and semi-structured interviews, respectively.


The mean age of the 51 participants was 63 years (SD11.17), 52.9% was male. With the CARES-SF, a large variety of problems and care needs was detected. Problems most frequently experienced, and most burdensome for QOL are a mix of physical complaints, side effects from treatment, practical, relational, and psychosocial difficulties. Only for a limited number of experienced problems a desire for extra help was expressed. All patients positively evaluate the timing and frequency of the CARES-assessment. The majority believes that this assessment could contribute to the discussion of problems and needs with healthcare professionals, to get more tailored care. Reference nurses experienced the intervention as an opportunity to systematically explore patients’ well-being in a comprehensive way, leading to detection and discussion of specific problems or needs in greater depth, and more efficient involvement of different disciplines in care.


Systematic QOL and needs assessment with the CARES-SF in oncology can contribute to more patient-centeredness and efficiency of care.

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