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'Burden to others' as a public concern in advanced cancer: a comparative survey in seven European countries

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Claudia Bausewein, Natalia Calanzani, Barbara A Daveson, Steffen T Simon, Pedro L Ferreira, Irene J Higginson, Dorothee Bechinger-English, Luc Deliens, Marjolein Gysels, Franco Toscani, Lucas Ceulemans, Richard Harding, Barbara Gomes

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
Pages (from-to)N/A
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
E-pub ahead of print8 Mar 2013

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Europe faces an enormous public health challenge with aging populations and rising cancer incidence. Little is known about what concerns the public across European countries regarding cancer care towards the end of life. We aimed to compare the level of public concern with different symptoms and problems in advanced cancer across Europe and examine factors influencing this.

METHODS: Telephone survey with 9,344 individuals aged >=16 in England, Flanders, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Participants were asked about nine symptoms and problems, imagining a situation of advanced cancer with less than one year to live. These were ranked and the three top concerns examined in detail. As 'burden to others' showed most variation within and between countries, we determined the relative influence of factors on this concern using GEE and logistic regression.

RESULTS: Overall response rate was 21%. Pain was the top concern in all countries, from 34% participants (Italy) to 49% (Flanders). Burden was second in England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Breathlessness was second in Flanders and the Netherlands. Concern with burden was independently associated with age (70+ years, OR 1.50; 95%CI 1.24-1.82), living alone (OR 0.82, 95%CI 0.73-0.93) and preferring quality rather than quantity of life (OR 1.43, 95%CI 1.14-1.80).

CONCLUSIONS: When imagining a last year of life with cancer, the public is not only concerned about medical problems but also about being a burden. Public education about palliative care and symptom control is needed. Cancer care should include a routine assessment and management of social concerns, particularly for older patients with poor prognosis.

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