A study testing a questionnaire to work out the care needs of people using a supportive or palliative care service in Sheffield (SPARC feasibility)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This study is testing a questionnaire called SPARC with people who have supportive care Open a glossary item or palliative care Open a glossary item needs in Sheffield, to see if it makes a difference to their quality of life Open a glossary item or the help on offer.

We know from research that patients both with and without cancer may have needs that are not fully met at the moment. If you survive cancer, you may live with ongoing symptoms, late side effects of treatment, or the impact of chronic illness. Those near the end of life, with cancer or other conditions have important needs as well as their disease.  

Researchers want to see if care improves after using a questionnaire called SPARC (Sheffield Profile for Assessment and Referral for Care), alongside the usual support services people would have. At the moment, there is no assessment like this in widespread use.  SPARC covers a wide range of issues that patients may face. If health professionals give SPARC to patients early on, they should get an earlier idea of possible problems, and be able to help them sooner.  

The team will recruit people with or without cancer who use a supportive or palliative care service in Sheffield. People taking part will fill in the SPARC questionnaire and answer questions about their experiences. Researchers hope to see

  • If SPARC makes a difference to quality of life and referrals for help
  • If the experience is different for different groups of patients

They will use what they learn to plan a larger study in more centres, to further test how useful SPARC is.

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this study if you have been referred to the palliative care service in Sheffield and you are at least 18 years old.

You cannot enter this study if for any reason you would not be able to complete SPARC even with the help of a relative or carer.

Trial design

This is a randomised controlled study. The people taking part will be put into one of 2 groups randomly. You will not be able to decide which group you are in.  

As well as giving the study team permission to look at their medical records for information, everyone taking part will fill out a SPARC questionnaire. If you are in group 1, you will fill this out as soon as you join the study. If you are in group 2, you will complete this questionnaire after 2 weeks. The questionnaire will ask about

  • Whether you have been able to talk to any health professionals or other people about your condition
  • Physical symptoms
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Religion and spirituality
  • Independence and activity levels
  • Family and social issues
  • Treatment
  • Personal issues, such as whether you need help with your personal affairs

The team will also ask both groups to fill out 3 more short questionnaires at the start of the study and again 2, 4 and 6 weeks later. These questionnaires will ask you

  • About 2 concerns important to you
  • About your quality of life
  • How helpful your latest supportive or palliative care appointment was

A member of the research team will help you complete the questionnaires if you need them to.

The team may ask you to take part in an interview about completing the SPARC questionnaire and how it was helpful.

The research team will also talk to up to 25 health care professionals whose patients took part in the study.

Hospital visits

If you are at the hospital, hospice or day centre for any reason, you can complete the questionnaires during your stay or visit. If not, you can complete them at home and return them in the pre paid envelope.

If you agree to be interviewed, you will do this at a place convenient for you.

Side effects

You will not have any side effects from taking part in this study.  But you may feel upset being reminded of illness or difficulties. The team will be able to arrange specialist help and support if you feel that the study has upset or affected you in any way.

We have more information on coping with cancer.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Bill Noble

Supported by

Macmillan Cancer Support
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University of Sheffield

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 9137

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Cara took part in a clinical trial

A picture of Cara

"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”

Last reviewed:

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