The Patient Needs Assessment in Cancer Care: Identifying Barriers and Facilitators to Implementation in the UK and Canada

Williamson, Susan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9635-4473, Hack, Thomas F., Bangee, Munirah orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8548-6692, Benedetto, Valerio orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4683-0777 and Beaver, Kinta orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6552-2323 (2021) The Patient Needs Assessment in Cancer Care: Identifying Barriers and Facilitators to Implementation in the UK and Canada. Supportive Care in Cancer, 29 . pp. 805-812. ISSN 0941-4355

[thumbnail of Version of Record]
PDF (Version of Record) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL:


Personalised information and support can be provided to cancer survivors using a structured approach. Needs assessment tools such as the Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) in the United Kingdom and the Comprehensive Problem and Symptom Screening (COMPASS) questionnaire in Canada are recommended for use in practice; however, they are not widely embedded into practice. The study aimed to determine the extent to which nurses working in cancer care in the UK and Manitoba value NA and identify any barriers and facilitators they experience.
Oncology nurses involved in the care of cancer patients in the UK (n=110) and Manitoba (n=221) were emailed a link to an online survey by lead cancer nurses in the participating institutions. A snowball technique was used to increase participation across the UK resulting in 306 oncology nurses completing the survey in the UK and 116 in Canada.
Participants expressed concerns that these assessments were becoming bureaucratic “tick-box exercises” which did not meet patients’ needs. Barriers to completion were time, staff shortages, lack of confidence, privacy and resources. Facilitators were privacy for confidential discussions, training, confidence in knowledge and skills, and referral to resources.
Many busy oncology nurses completed this survey demonstrating the importance they attach to HNAs and COMPASS. The challenges faced with implementing these assessments into everyday practice require training, time, support services and an appropriate environment. It is vital that the HNA and COMPASS are conducted at optimum times for patients to fully utilise time and resources.

Repository Staff Only: item control page