Unmet needs in immigrant cancer survivors: A cross-sectional population-based study

P. N. Butow, Melanie L Bell, L. J. Aldridge, M. Sze, M. Eisenbruch, M. Jefford, P. Schofield, A. Girgis, M. King, P. S. Duggal, J. McGrane, D. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: Social suffering, language difficulties, and cultural factors may all make the cancer experience more difficult for immigrants. This study aimed to document unmet needs, and variables associated with these, in a population-based sample of first-generation immigrants and Anglo-Australians who had survived cancer. Methods: Participants were recruited via Australian cancer registries. Eligible cancer survivors had a new diagnosis 1-6 years earlier and were aged between 18 and 80 years at diagnosis. Eligible immigrant participants and parents were born in a country where Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and other dialects), or Greek is spoken, and they spoke one of these languages. A random sample of English-speaking Anglo-Australian-born controls was recruited. Results: Five hundred ninety-six patients (277 immigrants) were recruited to the study (response rate, 26 %). Compared to Anglo-Australians, the adjusted odds ratio of Chinese immigrants for at least one unmet information/support need was 5.1 (95 % CI 3.1, 8.3) and for any unmet physical need was 3.1 (95 % CI 1.9, 5.1). For Greek, these were 2.0 (95 % CI 1.1, 4.0) and 2.7 (95 % CI 1.4, 5.2). Arabic patients had elevated, but not statistically significant, odds ratios compared to Anglo-Australians. Written information and having a specialist, support services, and other health professionals who spoke their language were in the top ten unmet needs amongst immigrants. Conclusion: Immigrant cancer survivors, several years after initial diagnosis, are more likely to have an unmet need for information or for help with a physical problem than Anglo-Australians. They strongly desire information and support in their own language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2509-2520
Number of pages12
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • CALD
  • Cancer
  • Cultural competence
  • Immigrants
  • Multi-culturalism
  • Unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

Cite this

Butow, P. N., Bell, M. L., Aldridge, L. J., Sze, M., Eisenbruch, M., Jefford, M., ... Goldstein, D. (2013). Unmet needs in immigrant cancer survivors: A cross-sectional population-based study. Supportive Care in Cancer, 21(9), 2509-2520. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-013-1819-2