Aim: Community-based psychosocial support centres for cancer patients and their relatives (CBPSCs) in the Netherlands offer easily accessible contacts with fellow patients and support by trained volunteers and/or professionals. We studied if the participants in the social support and/or therapy activities are satisfied with these services and if the visits do affect their well-being in terms of bodily and emotional health and their health quality of life (HQoL).
Methods: In 25 CBPSCs, 701visitors filled out a web-based questionnaire about their experiences with CBPSCs. Within this sample, 203 participants answered a part of the questionnaire again after 3-5 months about their personal characteristics, the type participation at the visits, their satisfaction with the offered activities, the experienced health complains, and three HQoL questions of the EORTC measure.
Results: The study confirms the significance of CBPSCs contacts with fellow patients, resulting in satisfaction with the increased communication about their illness and talks about their problems. The results show further that after a 3-5 months the health complains did not change, but the HQoL decreased significantly for all visitors, except for more serious ill patients in comparison with less ill patients.
Discussion and conclusion CBPSCs play an important and highly evaluated role in psycho-oncological support. The visit for serious ill patients may function as a buffer for preventing the decrease of their HQoL. Insight in effects of such visits is still limited in other studies. Differences in the health care organization restrict the comparability with the CBPSCs in other countries. More studies are needed to show the long-term effects of CBPSCs visits.