Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)




Denise Bryant-Lukosius


Ann Mohide, Nancy Carter, Carolyn Ingram



Committee Member

Ann Mohide, Nancy Carter, Carolyn Ingram



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among Canadians. Little is known about the types of supportive care needs (SCNs) that patients with colon cancer experience during the diagnostic phase or whether these needs are met. To inform the development of population specific healthcare services, a needs assessment of patients with newly diagnosed advanced colon cancer was conducted to identify the types, prevalence, severity, and importance of unmet SCNs, as well as to identify any gaps between patient priority needs and their use of supportive care services.

Patients and Methods

A descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted. Over one year, all newly diagnosed patients with colon cancer at the Juravinski Cancer Centre were screened for eligibility. Sixty-two of 80 eligible patients completed a self-report written questionnaire prior to starting treatment (response rate = 77.5%). The questionnaire included the Supportive Care Needs Survey-Short Form, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal and Health Service Utilization Questionnaire.


‘Fears about the cancer spreading’ was the most prevalent unmet SCN (n = 52/62 or 84%). Unmet SCNs experienced by 65% or more of participants related to lack of control about treatment outcomes, the uncertain future, and concerns about family member well-being. Patients also rated these needs as being most severe.

The two most severe CRC-specific concerns were related to ‘body appearance’ (Mean = 1.77, SD = 1.37) and ‘bowel control’ (Mean = 2.28, SD = 1.37). The most important or priority unmet needs were related to uncertainty about the future (43.5%), fatigue (24.2%), and information (22.6%). Less than 12% of participants had used existing supportive care services in the community.


Prevalent and priority unmet needs were related to psychosocial support and information. Recommendations for designing colon cancer-specific services are provided along with strategies to improve patient use of existing resources.

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