A comparison of American and Egyptian cancer patients' attitudes and unmet needs.
The purpose of this descriptive study was to compare and contrast similarities and differences in statements made by American and Egyptian cancer patients who expressed their attitudes toward cancer and reported their unmet needs. A total of 61 American and 66 Egyptian patients, who were receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or a combination of the two treatments at the time of data collection, participated in the study. The American sample was drawn from patients at a large midwestern hospital, whereas the Egyptian sample was drawn from patients at the largest university hospital in Cairo, Egypt. Data were collected through a structured interview method in both patient populations. Analyses of responses showed five categories of attitudes for the American patients: (a) fighting spirit and adaptation, (b) fear/anxiety/disbelief, (c) hope, (d) passivity in plan of care, and (e) faith. For Egyptian patients, seven categories emerged: (a) stoicism and fatalism, (b) dependency, (c) compliance with the medical regimen, (d) anxiety/fear/insecurity, (e) powerlessness, (f) hope and optimism, and (g) family support. American cancer patients reported their unmet needs as (a) information, (b) needs related to treatment side effects, and (c) psychological support. Egyptian cancer patients reported their unmet needs as (a) relief from dependency, (b) relief from physical symptoms, and (c) information. These findings have implications for international oncology nursing, and imply the need for further research to determine if attitudes and unmet needs affect coping effectiveness and quality of life among cancer patients.