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5. Why is it particularly important to consider RURAL cancer patients’ psychosocial needs?

There is increasing evidence that this group may be more likely than their urban counterparts to experience poor mental health [21-24], poorer treatment outcomes [25] and unmet psychosocial needs. [1,26,27]. For example, less than 10% of Australian rural breast cancer patients and 5% of their families have accessed psychosocial help through a counsellor, psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist during diagnosis and treatment [7]. Comparative data on support service usage is limited. However, American research suggests that the rate of counselling and support group usage after cancer diagnosis by patients in the wider population is approximately 14.2% [28]. Therefore, focused efforts at linking rural cancer patients with psychosocial services are required.