gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Dimensions of psychosocial care needs of cancer patients at the beginning of a radiation therapy

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Sabine Fischbeck - Abteilung für Medizinische Psychologie und Medizinische Soziologie, Universität Mainz, Deutschland
  • Kai Budischewski - Arbeitsbereich für Medizinische Psychologie und Medizinische Soziologie, Universität Rostock

27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocPO579

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Fischbeck et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Many cancer patients, who have to be treated with a radiation therapy, are burdened with fears of the technical equipment and the side effects of this treatment. For others the hope to be cured is the main experience. The physician, who has to inform the patients about the treatment and has to get the patients´ agreement with it, is in the dilemma, to find the best psychosocial care for each patient. However, there is little systematic knowledge about the patients´ wishes with respect to psychosocial support through their radiotherapist. The aim of our study was to identify types and importance of cancer patients´ psychosocial care needs before the radiation therapy starts. Further in wen wanted to analyse relations between expert defined need for psychosocial intervention and the patient subjective needs.

Material and methods: For our purposes we used a care needs questionnaire (58 items) we had developed on the base of former research and interviews with patients and radiotherapists. N = 120 cancer patients (age 29-91, 55% breast cancer, 14% glioblastom, 31% others) filled out our care needs questionnaire. Additionally they answered the Hornheider Fragebogen (HF, Strittmatter, 1997).

Results: After an explorative principal component analysis we could extract four dimensions of radiotherapist related psychosocial care needs: (1) “Need for socioemotional support”, (2) “Need for therapy related information”(3) “Need for open communication” (4) “Need for respecting the patients´ autonomy” (accounting for 49,1% of total variance). Internal consistencies of these scales (BB-S-Radiotherapy) are variing between medium to very good (Cronbach Alpha .74-.92). Fulfilling information needs has been proved as very important (M = 4.7; SD = .36) and respecting patients´ autonomy as average important (M = 3.6; SD = .81). We didn´t find care need scale differences dependent on the case of being classified as in need for psychosocial intervention or not (HF-cut-off-score). But there are some statistically significant item differences between breast cancer and glioblastom patients.

Conclusion: The results of our study helps us to select predominant psychosocial care needs of radiotherapy cancer patients. Our results should help radiotherapists to enhance the quality of the physician-patient communication and finally the cancer patients´ quality of life.