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due to the rising incidence of cancer and stabilizing mortality rates, the experience of living with cancer is increasingly prevalent. Research has shown that a diagnosis of cancer is often associated with high morbidity. Three primary methodologies have been applied in the study of morbidity outcomes for cancer patients: quality of life, patient satisfaction, and needs assessment. While quality-of life evaluations have gauged the ramifications of the disease for different aspects of life experience, patient satisfaction surveys have more closely focused on perceived quality-of-care issues. In contrast, needs assessment spans both quality-of-life and quality-of-care issues when the impact of disease on patients’ needs is assessed. Regardless of methodologies, the common goal is to acquire information about health outcomes pertinent to assisting in the improvement of the quality of patient care and the reduction of cancer-related morbidity.15
However, unlike other methodologies, needs assessments offer a number of advantages. First, they enable direct assessment of patients’ perceived needs for help, thereby allowing a more direct indication of needed resources. Second, they allow the identification of the magnitude of need for help, thereby allowing some prioritization of service needs so that resources can be allocated where the need is most urgent. Third, needs assessment enables the identification of individuals and/or patient subgroups with higher level needs, thereby potentially enabling prevention or at least reduction of problems through appropriate early intervention.
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