Online Program

Understanding cancer survivors' unmet needs through an interdisciplinary team-based approach to research

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

MaryAnn Burg, PhD, MSW, LCSW, School of Social Work, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Ellen Lopez, MPH, PhD, Psychology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Gail Adorno, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, University of Texas - Arlington, Arlington, TX
Victoria Loerzel, PhD, RN, OCN, School of Nursing, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Cara Wallace, MSW, LMSW, School of Social Work, University of Texas - Arlington, Arlington, TX
Dinghy Sharma, MA, UAF Psychology Department, CLA, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Developing responsive clinical, social, and policy services to meet the needs of the growing population of cancer survivors necessitates understanding the cancer experiences from short and long-term survivors themselves. Cancer-focused surveys typically offer survivors the opportunity to respond to both closed and open-ended questions. Yet, the experiential knowledge to be gained from qualitative survey data is often overlooked in deference to quantitative analyses. We present a systematic analytic method and our preliminary findings of unmet needs of cancer survivors (N=2,219) who provided narrative responses on the American Cancer Society's (ACS) National Quality of Life Survey. We describe the collaborative work of an interdisciplinary research team (nursing, psychology, social work, and public health researchers) in developing a coding paradigm for this unusually large set of qualitative data. Lessons learned while navigating the challenges and benefits inherent to inter-professional collaboration will be discussed including epistemological stance, emergent themes and our use of mixed methods of data interpretation and analysis. Preliminary findings suggest that regardless of whether cancer survivors were two, five, or ten years post-treatment unmet needs persisted. Cancer survivors experienced unmet needs across multiple dimensions (e.g., physical, emotional, social support, education/information needs, financial and access to health care). Moreover, personal control emerged as a common theme underlying the broader dimensions of unmet needs. Adequate address of the needs of survivors warrants a systematic and rigorous analysis of data, both quantitative and qualitative. Our experiences and the processes developed will benefit other mixed-method and interdisciplinary team projects.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the unmet needs reported by short and long-term cancer survivors. Describe the methods developed by an interdisciplinary research team to systematically analyze a large volume of self-reported open-ended survey items.

Keyword(s): Cancer, Methodology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a primary team member on the research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.