researchers to improve understanding of cancer patients' experiences
Lancaster University researchers are aiming to improve the understanding of the social, psychological and clinical problems experienced by people with cancer.
The Cancer Experiences Collaborative, which involves researchers from Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Lancaster universities has been awarded £1.9million over five years by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). Working directly with people affected by cancer, researchers will investigate ways in which patients and their families can cope more effectively, how they can maximise the benefits of treatment and live as well as possible, and how the best care can be delivered in the right place.
An initial grant of £265,107 will come to Lancaster, and further funds will be available for activities to promote knowledge and skills in supportive and palliative care research.
Lancaster researchers Dr Carol Thomas and Dr Amanda Bingley will be investigating how patients and the people that look after them can inform policy and practice, by paying close attention to personal accounts of living with illness, suffering and care. The researchers will use narratives, which range from interviews, written text, art and other media such as sound recordings and TV footage to gain a better understanding of patients’ experiences and problems.
Professor David Clark director of Lancaster’s International Observatory on End of Life Care explained:
“A report in 2002 by the NCRI found that only about four per cent of the cancer research budget is spent on supportive and palliative care. More attention is needed to highlight and overcome the social and personal problems that cancer can bring.
“ This project sees five top research universities pooling their expertise in order to improve care for cancer patients and their families. I predict that Lancaster’s part will provide challenging evidence about problems and difficulties experienced by patients and carers, and give a significant ‘voice’ to those directly affected by cancer.”
The Cancer Experiences Collaborative involves the five Universities as well as people with cancer, leading hospice charities and service providers, key professional bodies together with cancer clinicians and networks.
The Collaborative aims to use research evidence to change clinical practice and the way services are organised. Its work will help improve the care of all people experiencing cancer and other serious illnesses. It has three main priorities: innovative approaches to the self-management of complex symptoms; planning for the care of older adults towards the end of life, and investigating better ways of understanding and learning from the stories and experiences of people affected by cancer. It also has a crucial role to play in identifying, training and supporting the next generation of researchers in supportive and palliative care.