Background: Globally, different age groups in the elderly population have experienced major shifts over time. Human life expectancy doubled from the 19th to the twentieth century and has increased to 80 years in the twenty-first century. These conditions imply economic challenges and the increasing prevalence of certain health conditions. Old age is associated with increased care needs in various aspects of daily life. This study assessed the health care needs of elderly patients with lung, liver, and colorectal cancer in Taiwan and analyzed the factors underlying their needs. Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive survey assessed 234 elderly patients with diagnosis of lung, liver, and colorectal cancer in Taiwan. We investigated their health care needs and daily living functions by using the Supportive Care Needs Survey and Karnofsky Performance Status, respectively. Results: Patients required the most assistance in physical functioning and daily living. Patients aged ≥85 years required more care than those aged 65–74 years in terms of information access and sexuality needs. Patients with poor functional status required more care than those capable of undertaking normal activities. Patients diagnosed as having liver cancer required more care than those with lung or colorectal cancer. Patients with advanced cancer required more physical and daily care than those with early-stage cancer. Conclusions: Patients’ health care needs differed with age, primary cancer site, and functional status. Patients aged ≥85 years and those with poor function, primary liver cancer, and advanced cancer had higher care needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cancer
  • Elderly population
  • Health care needs
  • Supportive care needs survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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