Supportive Care Needs of Women With Gynecologic Cancer

Rose Steele, PhD, RN; Margaret I. Fitch, PhD, RN


Cancer Nurs. 2008;31(4):284-291. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Gynecologic cancers often place a heavy emotional and physical burden on patients. However, there is a lack of information about the types of supportive care needs that these patients have, the services that are available, and whether patients want help with their needs. The aims of this cross-sectional, descriptive study were to (1) identify the supportive care needs (physical, emotional, social, spiritual, psychological, informational, and practical) of women with gynecologic cancer who attended a comprehensive, outpatient cancer center in Ontario, Canada, and (2) determine if patients wanted assistance in meeting those needs. A total of 103 patients participated in this study by completing a self-report questionnaire. Sixty-five of the women were no longer on treatment at the time of completing the survey. Eight of the top 10 most frequently reported needs were nonphysical, such as fears about the cancer returning or spreading. The data indicated that a range of needs remained unmet for this patient group. However, identifying the presence of a need did not necessarily mean that a patient wanted to have assistance with the need. Suggestions for practice and future research are offered to assist healthcare professionals in providing care to these patients.


Gynecologic cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer type for women in Canada, with an estimated 7,850 new cases of uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancer expected to occur in 2007.[1] Women with gynecologic cancer may face particularly difficult situations involving distress because of the aggressive surgical and medical procedures used in treatment.[2] However, there is a lack of knowledge about the supportive care needs of these women.

Staff in the gynecologic clinic at Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre (T-SRCC), a comprehensive, ambulatory cancer care center in Ontario, Canada, were interested in obtaining a better understanding of the supportive care needs of women attending their clinic. The center strives to provide evidence-based care, and although the healthcare providers thought that they knew what women needed based on clinical experience, they were cognizant that there was little empirical research to support their beliefs. Because they were aware of previous supportive care research at the center with other populations, some nurses and the social worker from the clinic approached the head of supportive care at the center for assistance in developing a study to address this gap in evidence.


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