What young people need when a family member dies of cancer

Fiona McDonald, Pandora Patterson, Richard Tindle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study uses the newly developed Bereaved Cancer Needs Inventory to identify the unmet psychosocial needs of adolescents and young adults who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling to cancer, and to explore the relationship between unmet needs and psychological distress.
Methods: In total, 278 bereaved offspring and 38 bereaved siblings (12–25 years) completed the 58-item Bereaved Cancer Needs Inventory (BCNI) and the Kessler psychological distress scale (K10).
Results: Bereaved offspring reported 27 unmet needs on average (SD = 16.87, range: 0–58); 94% indicated at least one unmet need, with 80% indicating 10 or more needs. Bereaved siblings reported 23 unmet needs on average (SD = 17.30, range: 0–57); 97% indicated at least one unmet need, with 68% indicating 10 or more needs. For both bereaved offspring and siblings, the needs for “support from other young people” and “time out and recreation” were most frequently reported as unmet. Approximately half of all participants reported high to very high levels of psychological distress. There was a significant positive relationship between the number of unmet needs and the psychological distress score on the K10 for both groups.
Conclusions: Bereaved offspring and bereaved siblings report unmet psychosocial needs across many domains, which are associated with their levels of psychological distress. Findings suggest the BCNI may be used by healthcare professionals to identify unmet needs and direct clients to the appropriate services, resources, or support; with the intent to reduce their risk of mental illness and psychological distress.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)1631–1638
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Early online date06 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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