Quality of Life Research

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 665–677 | Cite as

Symptoms, supportive care needs, and function in cancer patients: how are they related?

  • Claire F. Snyder
  • Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer
  • Julie R. Brahmer
  • Michael A. Carducci
  • Roberto Pili
  • Vered Stearns
  • Antonio C. Wolff
  • Sydney M. Dy
  • Albert W. Wu


Aims To explore the associations among symptoms, supportive care needs, and function.

Methods One hundred and seventeen cancer patients completed the Supportive Care Needs Survey and EORTC-QLQ-C30 in a cross-sectional study. Associations among function (physical, role, emotional, cognitive, social), symptoms (fatigue, nausea/vomiting, pain, dyspnea, insomnia, appetite loss, constipation, diarrhea), and supportive care needs (physical and daily living, psychological, patient care and support, health system and information, sexual) were tested using multivariate item regression (MIR). We tested (1) function as the dependent variable with symptoms and supportive care needs as independent variables and (2) supportive care needs as the dependent variable with symptoms and function as independent variables.

Results Worse fatigue, pain, and appetite loss were associated with worse function. Greater unmet physical and daily living needs were associated with worse physical, role, and cognitive function. Greater unmet psychological needs were associated with worse emotional and cognitive function. Worse sleep problems were associated with greater unmet needs. Better physical function was associated with fewer unmet physical and daily living needs, and better emotional function was associated with fewer unmet psychological, patient care and support, and health system and information needs.

Conclusions The results obtained with these models suggest several consistent relationships among symptoms, supportive care needs, and function.


Functional status Health-related quality of life Supportive care needs Symptoms 



Confirmatory factor analysis


Cognitive function




Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group


Exploratory factor analysis


Emotional function


European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire–Core 30


Health system and information needs


Health-related quality of life


Multivariate item regression


Patient care and support needs


Physical and daily living needs


Physical function


Patient-reported measure


Psychological needs


Supportive Care Needs Survey–Short Form


Sexual needs


Social function



The authors would like to thank David Ettinger, MD, and Charles Rudin, MD, for their assistance in recruiting patients for the study; Danetta Hendricks, MA, and Kristina Weeks, BA, BS, for their assistance in coordinating the study; Amanda Blackford, ScM, for assistance with conducting preliminary analyses. This research was supported by the Aegon International Fellowship in Oncology (CFS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire F. Snyder
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer
    • 1
  • Julie R. Brahmer
    • 1
  • Michael A. Carducci
    • 1
  • Roberto Pili
    • 1
  • Vered Stearns
    • 1
  • Antonio C. Wolff
    • 1
  • Sydney M. Dy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Albert W. Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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