What Are the Unmet Supportive Care Needs of People Affected by Cancer: An Umbrella Systematic Review

Catherine Paterson, Kellie Toohey, Rachel Bacon, Phillip Kavanagh, Cara Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this umbrella systematic review was to critically synthesize unmet supportive care needs of people affected by cancer.

Data Sources
The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) umbrella review method provided an overall examination of the body of evidence that was available in relation to the unmet supportive care needs among people living with cancer. All qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods reviews were included irrespective of review design. Electronic databases were searched using a wide range of search terms. All records were managed using the software package Endnote X21 and uploaded to Covidence systematic review software. Duplication of records were removed. A preselection eligibility criterion was applied to all records. Data extraction and methodological quality assessment was conducted independently by two reviewers, and a meta-level narrative synthesis conducted.

A total 30 systematic reviews were included representing a total of 666 publications globally. Irrespective of the type of cancer there were many commonalities in relation to the reported experiences of unmet supportive care needs, which therefore enables the development of targeted future clinical trials, clinical guidelines, and policy contribution. In descending order of frequency, the highest unmet supportive care needs were related to psychological/emotional (30 out of 30), health system/information (29 out of 30), interpersonal/intimacy (21 out of 30), social (20 out of 30), physical (19 out of 30), family (18 out of 30), practical (16 out of 30), daily living (10 out of 30), spiritual needs (8 out of 30), patient-clinician communication (8 out of 30), and cognitive needs (5 out of 30).

Implications for Nursing Practice
This umbrella review has underscored fundamental shortcomings in care delivery irrespective of the patient population and the type of cancer. People with cancer are continually reporting that their needs are not being met across many supportive care domains. It is time for change within the health care system and to full leverage multidisciplinary person-centered models of care to optimize recovery and survivorship experiences. In the meantime, policy makers and cancer care clinicians are encouraged to reflect on these findings to address individualized care needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number151353
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSeminars in Oncology Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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