PURPOSE: The number of cancer survivors is growing and cancer is now viewed as a chronic disease. This has highlighted the importance of providing adequate rehabilitation to prevent physical, psychological, and social sequelae of cancer. However, it is unclear whether those in need of rehabilitation are offered this.
METHODS: Using patient-observer agreement and cognitive interviews, we validated a seven-item questionnaire designed to assess cancer patients' perception of the sufficiency of the offered rehabilitation. A cross-sectional study among 2,202 Danish cancer patients affiliated with hospitals was carried out.
RESULTS: The questionnaire was well understood, indicating good validity. In the cross-sectional study, 1,490 patients (68%) participated. Up to 39% of cancer patients did not receive the physical rehabilitation they felt they needed. About half of those who had felt a need to talk to a psychologist were offered this. Insufficiency of other rehabilitation offers was reported by 10-24%. Age most consistently predicted insufficient rehabilitation; higher age predicted insufficient information about support from other sources (than hospital staff) and younger age predicted lack of help to manage symptoms, return to everyday life, and deal with financial and especially work-related consequences. We found no consistent signs of traditional social inequality in the perception of rehabilitation, but we observed some signs of social inequality for unemployed or divorced/separated patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Age predicted sufficiency of the rehabilitation in two directions, possibly reflecting different needs in younger and older patients. When tailoring rehabilitation programs, it should be ensured that the different needs are met.