Background: Although a number of studies have reported different domains of cancer patients' needs for help, very little is known about gender and ethnic differences in those needs. Gender differences have been implicitly assumed in most studies, and specific ethnic groups have been focused on rather than comparing several ethnic groups. Objectives: The purpose of this pilot study was to explore cancer patients' needs for help among four major ethnic groups in the US, to determine gender and ethnic differences in needs, and to provide direction for future studies. Design: This was a descriptive and comparative pilot study using a feminist perspective. Settings and participants: A total of 110 self-identified cancer patients were recruited through both Internet and community settings using a convenience sampling method. Methods: The instruments included sociodemographic questions, the Cancer Needs Questionnaire-Short Form, and the Supportive Care Needs Survey. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential statistics including the Mann-Whitney U tests and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Results: The findings indicated that there was no significant gender difference in all domains of needs for help. There were significant ethnic differences in all domains of needs except communication and sexual needs. Asians reported the lowest scores in most domains of needs for help while Hispanics reported the highest scores in most domains of needs for help. Conclusions: The findings indicated certain ethnic differences in cancer patients' needs for help and suggest further in-depth qualitative investigations on cultural beliefs and attitudes that may influence needs, with a careful examination of gender sensitivity and cultural competence of the instruments measuring cancer patients' needs for help.
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