Consideration Towards the Psychosocial Support Needs of Patients With Breast Cancer Who Have Dependent Children Is Imperative, Research Says

Attention should be paid to the psychosocial needs of patients, especially those with poor health-related quality of life, who have little support or who are single mothers.

Focusing on the whole family and the need for psychosocial support is especially important for breast cancer patients who have dependent children, those with poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL), little social support, and single mothers with higher psychosocial needs, according to a survey. study published in Psycho-Oncology.

Findings of the study indicated that 59.3% of patients with children expressed a current need for physiological support and 33.3% expressed the need for their children. A bivariate association was found indicating that a lack of social support and poor maternal QoL resulted in a higher psychosocial need in patients and their children.

A total of 561 patients met the study’s inclusion criteria and completed a questionnaire, of whom 23.0% had received psychosocial support from their families prior to the rehabilitation program. Of patients living in a metropolitan area, 30.4% had previously used psychosocial support, compared to 17.4% of patients in rural areas. Psychosocial services were used more often by those who did not have a partner (34.5%), compared to patients who did have a partner (20.5%). In addition, 74.7% of patients who had not previously received family-oriented psychosocial support felt they had adequate support from home, 48.5% felt no need for the services, and 42.3% were unaware of the support offers.

Overall, 87.1% said they needed support from their children in coping with the disease, and 84.6% wanted support in determining whether their child’s response was appropriate. In addition, 73.3% wanted support for their partners. Statements related to the patient’s behavior, such as discussing their illness within the family, were rated less good compared to statements about the well-being of the family as a whole.

Patients indicated that family-oriented support was most needed during the diagnostic phase (62.0%) and the treatment phase (73.4%). Overall, 24.4% of the patients needed family-oriented support at the end of treatment, in addition to 22.3% who needed support during rehabilitation. In addition, 6.3% of patients did not specify the need for support. Over time, the need for psychosocial support remained stable (36.8%), and 33.1% did not require psychosocial support. In addition, 17.9% had an increased need for support and 12.2% a decreased need.

When seeking support, 81.4% of patients went to a psycho-oncologist and 12.7% used a professional counseling center.

If the patient did not have a partner, children had a greater need for psychosocial support (51.3%) compared to patients who did have a partner (29.6%). In addition, patients were less likely to report a need for psychosocial services for their partner and the entire family (25.8% vs. 22.9%).

Those without direct social support or network tended to have higher psychosocial needs for themselves (76.1% versus 57.9%) and their children (63.2% versus 31.4%).

Patients who were reported to need psychosocial support had lower QoL compared to patients without. Patients showed a large difference on the social function scale. Emotional function had an even greater difference, but researchers reported that there was no appropriate threshold. Severa, medium differences were reported, including cognitive functioning, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and financial impact.

Reference

Hammersen F, Pursche T, Fischer D, Katalinic A, Waldmann A. Psychosocial and family-centered support in breast cancer patients with dependent children. Psychooncology. 2021;30(3):361-368. doi:10.1002/pon.5585

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