Need for supportive care

Need for supportive care

A patient-reported outcome measure to measure supportive care needs among head and neck cancer patients

The 34-item Short-Form Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS-SF34) is a patient-reported outcome measure developed to gain insight into supportive care needs of cancer patients, including physical and daily living, psychological, sexuality, patient care and support and health system and information needs. For use in conjunction with the SCNS-SF34, we recently developed a module (SCNS-HNC) to measure supportive care needs specific for head and neck cancer patients (e.g. need for help with difficulty speaking or problems with chewing and/or swallowing).

The goal of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties (i.e. internal consistency, validity and test-retest reliability) of the Dutch version of the SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC in head and neck cancer patients.

Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients were included from two cross-sectional studies. A total of  201 HNC patients completed the SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC and several other patient-reported outcome measures at a single point in time. Using this data the factor structure, internal consistency and construct validity of the SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC was assessed. A subset of patients (n = 110) completed the SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC a second time to assess test-retest reliability.

Content validity of the SCNS-HNC was good, although some HNC-topics were missing. For the SCNS-SF34 a 4-factor structure was found: physical & daily living, psychological, sexuality and health system, information & patient support (alpha=.79 to .95). For the SCNS-HNC a 2-factor structure was found: HNC-specific functioning and lifestyle (alpha=.89 and .60). Construct validity of the SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC was also found to be good; respectively 96% and 89% of the hypothesised correlations between the SCNS-SF34 or SCNS-HNC and other patient-reported outcome measures were found (57% and 67% also showed the hypothesised magnitude). The SCNS-SF34 domains discriminated between treatment procedure (physical & daily living: p=.02 and psychological: p=.01) and time since treatment (health system, information & patient support: p=.02). Test-retest reliability of SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC domains and HNC-specific functioning domain were in general good (ICC=.67 to .83). Floor effects ranged from 21.1% to 70.9%.

The SCNS-SF34 and SCNS-HNC are valid and reliable patient-reported outcome measures to evaluate the need for supportive care among (Dutch) HNC patients.

Dutch Cancer Society/Alpe d’HuZes Foundation


  • Jansen F, Witte BI, van Uden-Kraan CF, Braspenning AM, Leemans CR, Verdonck-de Leeuw IM. The need for supportive care among head and neck cancer patients: psychometric assessment of the Dutch version of the Supportive Care Needs Survey Short-Form (SCNS-SF34) and the newly developed head and neck cancer module (SCNS-HNC). Support Care Cancer. 2016 Nov;24(11):4639-49
  • Jansen F, Snyder CF, Leemans CR, Verdonck-de Leeuw IM. Identifying cutoff scores for the EORTC QLQ-C30 and the head and neck cancer-specific module EORTC QLQ-H&N35 representing unmet supportive care needs in patients with head and neck cancer. Head Neck. 2016 Apr;38 Suppl 1:E1493-500.
  • Jansen F, van Uden-Kraan CF, van Zwieten V, Witte BI, Verdonck-de Leeuw IM. Cancer survivors’ perceived need for supportive care and their attitude towards self-management and eHealth. Support Care Cancer. 2015 Jun;23(6):1679-88.

For questions, please contact dr. Femke Jansen,  [email protected]