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Exploring the reasons cancer survivors do not seek help for their concerns: a descriptive content analysis

Abstract

Purpose To understand reasons why adult cancer survivors do not seek assistance as they transition from the end of cancer treatment to follow-up care. Understanding these reasons should inform survivorship care, help reduce the burden of suffering and increase quality of life for survivors.

Methods A national survey was conducted in collaboration with ten Canadian provinces to identify unmet needs and experiences with follow-up for cancer survivors between one and 3 years post-treatment. The survey included open-ended questions to allow respondents to add topics of importance and details that offered a deeper insight into their experiences. This publication presents the analysis of the quantitative data and open-ended responses regarding reasons why the adult cancer population does not seek help with their concerns.

Results In total, 13 319 respondents answered the question about seeking help. 87% had a physical concern of which 76% did not seek help; 77% had an emotional concern of which 82% did not seek help; and 45% had a practical concern of which 71% did not seek help. Frequently identified reasons for not seeking help included being told it was normal and not thinking anything could be done, not wanting to ask, not thinking services were available, handling it on their own and not thinking it was serious enough to seek help.

Conclusions Survivors have multiple reasons for not seeking help for their concerns. These findings can be useful to healthcare providers in proactively identifying and addressing the needs of these survivors.

  • cancer
  • psychological care
  • quality of life
  • survivorship
  • supportive care

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