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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Nov;130(2):531-41. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1592-1. Epub 2011 May 27.

Unmet supportive care needs: a cross-cultural comparison between Hong Kong Chinese and German Caucasian women with breast cancer.

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Centre for Psycho-Oncology Research and Training, Department of Community Medicine and Unit for Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, 5/F, WMW Mong Block, Faculty of Medicine Building, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.


The comparison of psychosocial needs across different cultural settings can identify cultural and service impacts on psychosocial outcomes. We compare psychosocial needs in Hong Kong Chinese and German Caucasian women with breast cancer. Completed questionnaires were collected from 348 Chinese and 292 German women with breast cancer for assessing unmet psychosocial needs (Supportive Care Needs Survey Short Form), psychological distress (the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale), and listed physical and psychological symptoms. Only 11% of the participants reported not needing help for any of the 34 items. More German (14%) than Chinese women (8%) reported no unmet needs (χ(2) = 6.16, P = .013). With both samples combined, the Health System and Information domain unmet needs were the most prevalent, apart from one Psychological need domain item, "Fear about the cancer spreading." Chinese and German samples differed significantly in prevalence and patterns of unmet psychosocial needs. Multivariate adjustment for demographic, clinical, and sample characteristics, psychological distress, and symptoms showed that significantly greater unmet Health system and Information, and Patient care and support domain needs, associated with the presence of symptoms (β = .232, P < .001), high HADS Anxiety (β = .187, P < .001), higher education attainment (β = .120, P = .002), and Chinese sample membership (β = .280, P < .001). Greater unmet Psychological, Physical and Daily Living, and Sexuality domain needs were associated with the presence of symptoms, psychological distress, and German group membership, among others. German women reported more anxiety (t = 10.45, P < .001) and depression (t = 3.71, P < .001). In post hoc analyses, German, but not Chinese women reporting greater anxiety and depression had greater unmet Psychological and Sexuality domain needs (P < .001). It can be concluded that culture-specific differences in supportive care needs exist. Hong Kong Chinese women prioritize needs for information about their disease and treatment, whereas German Caucasian women prioritize physical and psychological support. Planning for cancer supportive care services or interventions to reduce unmet needs must consider cultural and/or health service contexts.

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