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Open Access Research article

Health care needs of cancer survivors in general practice: a systematic review

Renske A Hoekstra, Marianne J Heins* and Joke C Korevaar

Author Affiliations

Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), P.O Box 1568, 3500 BN Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-94

Published: 13 May 2014

Abstract

Background

The number of cancer survivors is increasing due to improved treatments. Consequently, general practitioners will treat more and more cancer survivors in the upcoming years. Only little is known about the care needs of these survivors and guidelines to support general practitioners in their treatment of these patients are lacking. The aim of this study was to gain insight in the health care needs of cancer survivors in general practice.

Methods

A systematic review on cancer survivors’ general practice needs was conducted in PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library of Systematic Reviews. Eligible studies could be qualitative or quantitative studies examining cancer survivors’ needs in general practice. Studies of adult survivors, with any cancer type, considered free of active disease and no longer receiving active treatment, were included. For each study a quality score was given using a form developed specifically for this study. Statements about survivors’ general practice needs were collected and corresponding themes were grouped.

Results

Fifteen studies were included, of which twelve were qualitative. Most mentioned general practice needs were psychosocial needs, mainly being support received form the GP, followed by a need for help with medical issues, and a need for information on cancer, recovery, late treatment effects and on adjusting to life after treatment.

Conclusions

Cancer survivors have different types of general practice needs that are currently not or insufficiently met. This review provides a starting point for the development of new guidelines for general practitioners to support in cancer survivorship.

Keywords:
Cancer survivors; Care needs; Primary health care; General practitioner; Family physician