Analysis of the unmet needs of Palestinian advanced cancer patients and their relationship to emotional distress: results from a cross-sectional study

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Background: Although several studies assessing the needs of advanced cancer patients have been conducted globally, most have focused on a specific type of cancer such as lung or breast cancer. The variation across studies has also created difficulties in generalizing the results and applying the findings in other countries. The aim of this study was to provide comprehensive information on the needs of Palestinian advanced cancer patients. The quality of life (QOL), distress levels, depression, anxiety, and spiritual well-being of the patients were also assessed. Methods: A hospital-based study with a cross-sectional design was conducted on a convenience sample of patients aged 18 or above who had been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. The unmet needs of the patients were assessed using the Short form of the Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS-SF34). Four instruments were utilized to examine their distress, anxiety, depression, QOL, and spirituality. A modified Supportive Care Framework was adopted to guide the design of this study. Descriptive statistics and hierarchical linear regression were utilized to analyse the data. Results: Of the 404 cancer patients invited to the study, 379 patients consented to participate and complete the questionnaire. Of them 96.8% stated that they had at least one ‘moderate to high’ level unmet need. The most frequent unmet needs were those in the physical aspects of daily living (Mean 58.94; SD ± 20.93) and psychological (Mean 58.84; SD ± 19.49) domains. Most of the patients (91%) were physically ill and reported experiencing physical symptoms. About 78.1% had a high level of distress. Almost 90% reported signs of depression and anxiety. Although they felt that their spiritual well-being was good, their QOL was poor. Hierarchical linear regression analyses confirmed that educational level, age, gender, marital status, cancer stage, cancer type, physical symptoms, depression, anxiety, distress, QOL, and spirituality were independently associated with unmet supportive care needs. Conclusion: Palestinian advanced cancer patients exhibit a significantly higher prevalence of unmet needs than those in other countries, indicating a need to develop a palliative care programme within the healthcare system. They have a great need for physical, emotional/psychosocial, self-management and other services, which should be made available to them, particularly in the routine delivery of cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Advanced cancer
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Experience
  • Palestine
  • Palliative care
  • Unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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