Open Access Open Badges Research article

The development of a supportive care needs assessment tool for Indigenous people with cancer

Gail Garvey1*, Vanessa L Beesley23, Monika Janda3, Catherine Jacka2, Adèle C Green24, Peter O’Rourke2 and Patricia C Valery1

Author affiliations

1 Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, PO Box 10639, Brisbane, QLD, 4000, Australia

2 Queensland Institute of Medical Research Health, 300 Herston Road, Herston, QLD, 4006, Australia

3 Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, QLD, 4001, Australia

4 University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:300  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-300

Published: 20 July 2012



Little is known about the supportive care needs of Indigenous people with cancer and to date, existing needs assessment tools have not considered cultural issues for this population. We aimed to adapt an existing supportive care needs assessment tool for use with Indigenous Australians with cancer.


Face-to-face interviews with Indigenous cancer patients (n = 29) and five focus groups with Indigenous key-informants (n = 23) were conducted to assess the face and content validity, cultural acceptability, utility and relevance of the Supportive Care Needs Survey - Short Form 34 (SCNS-SF34) for use with Indigenous patients with cancer.


All items from the SCNS-SF34 were shortened and changed to use more appropriate language (e.g. the word 'anxiety' was substituted with 'worry'). Seven questions were omitted (e.g. items on death and future considerations) as they were deemed culturally inappropriate or irrelevant and 12 items were added (e.g. accessible transport). Optional instructions were added before the sexual items. The design and response format of the SCNS-SF34 was modified to make it easier to use for Indigenous cancer patients. Given the extensive modifications to the SCNS-SF34 and the liklihood of a different factor structure we consider this tool to be a new tool rather than a modification. The Supportive care needs assessment tool for Indigenous people (SCNAT-IP) shows promising face and content validity and will be useful in informing services where they need to direct their attention for these patients.


Indigenous people with cancer have language, customs and specific needs that are not accommodated within the standard SCNS-SF34. Our SCNAT-IP improves acceptability, relevance and face validity for Indigenous-specific concerns. Our SCNAT-IP will allow screening for supportive care needs that are specific to Indigenous cancer patients' and greatly inform targeted policy development and practice.