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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2014 Mar;23(2):255-62. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12138. Epub 2013 Oct 15.

Measuring the unmet supportive care needs of cancer support persons: the development of the support person's unmet needs survey--short form.

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University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


Few rigorous measures of unmet needs have been developed for cancer support persons. This study describes the development of a short version of the Support Person's Unmet Needs Survey (SPUNS). Cancer survivors [n = 1589, 612 (52%) men, mean age of 62.5 years, SD 11.5] 1-5 years post diagnosis and recruited through three Canadian population-based cancer registries were asked to pass a survey package on to their principal support person. Surveys were returned by 1183 support persons. The survey included the long form of the SPUNS, which contains 78 items. Fifty-two items were deleted using a combination of expert opinion and statistical criteria. Analysis of the remaining items revealed a five-factor structure. The original factors were retained with the exception of a merging of the personal and emotional needs subscales. Cronbach's alpha co-efficients for all subscales were ≥ 0.87, and intraclass correlation of domain scores of the short and long versions of the SPUNS were high. The SPUNS short form was able to discriminate between support persons of survivors who had (n = 147), and those who had not received treatment in the past month (n = 969). At just 26 items, it is likely to have strong clinical and research applicability.


cancer; caregiver; carer; psychometrics; support person; unmet needs

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