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Support Care Cancer. 2012 Nov;20(11):2913-24. doi: 10.1007/s00520-012-1420-0. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Participation in cancer rehabilitation and unmet needs: a population-based cohort study.

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National Research Centre for Cancer Rehabilitation, Research Unit of General Practice, University of Southern Denmark, JB Winsløws vej 9A, 5000, Odense C, Denmark.



To investigate associations between cancer survivors' sex, age, and diagnosis in relation to their (1) need for rehabilitation, (2) participation in rehabilitation activities, and (3) unmet needs for rehabilitation in a 14-month period following date of diagnosis.


A population-based cohort study was performed on incident cancer patients diagnosed from 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008. Fourteen months after diagnosis, participants completed a questionnaire developed to measure the aspects of rehabilitation. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore the association between sex, age, and diagnosis, and the outcome variables for rehabilitation.


A total of 3,439 patients participated, yielding an overall response rate of 70%. One third of the cancer patients reported a need for physical rehabilitation and one third for psychological rehabilitation. Half of the patients participated in at least one activity. Unmet needs were most often reported in psychological, sexual, and financial areas. Women expressed more needs, participated more often in rehabilitation activities, and had, to a higher extent, their emotional needs fulfilled. Breast cancer patients participated more often in physical rehabilitation. Elderly who expressed rehabilitation needs more often had them unresolved.


A substantial variation in rehabilitation needs, participation in activities, and unmet needs in relation to sex, age, and cancer type was observed. Cancer care ought to systematically address the wide range of needs in all groups through integration of systematic needs assessment and targeted supply of offers.

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