Psychological and symptom distress in terminal cancer patients with met and unmet needs.
ABSTRACT This study identified the needs of terminal cancer patients, investigated the factors associated with unmet needs, and assessed psychological and symptom distress associated with unsolved needs. Ninety-four patients were randomly selected from 324 patients admitted for palliative care in 13 Italian centers. Two self-administered questionnaires (the Symptom Distress Scale and the Psychological Distress Inventory) were administered to all the patients. Patients needs were identified using a semi-structured interview, aimed at exploring five areas: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, self-esteem needs, self-fulfillment needs. A content analysis of the answers defined 11 needs, and identified patients with unmet needs. The most frequent unmet needs were symptom control (62.8%), occupational functioning (62.1%), and emotional support (51.7%). The less frequently reported needs were those related to personal care (14.6%), financial support (14.1%), and emotional closeness (13.8%). Low functional state was significantly associated with a high proportion of patients with unmet needs of personal care, information, communication, occupational functioning, and emotional closeness. Patients with unmet needs showed significantly higher psychological and symptom distress for most needs. This study provides some suggestions about the concerns that should be carefully considered during the late stage of cancer.