A study looking at the continuity of care for people with cancer

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Breast cancer
Lung cancer





This study looked at how people with cancer and their families and friends felt about their continuity of care during and after treatment.

We know from earlier research that continuity of care for people with cancer is very important. Without this, patients and their families can have a number of problems and may feel anxious and confused. For example a patient can feel abandoned when they finish treatment if they don’t have follow up appointments arranged, or contact details to use if they are worried.

In this study, the researchers used questionnaires and interviews to collect information about continuity of care. The cancer patients who took part had either

  • Recently been diagnosed
  • Finished treatment
  • No signs of cancer after treatment
  • Cancer that had come back
  • Advanced cancer

The researchers also interviewed close friends and families of the cancer patients.

The aims of this study were to find out more about what cancer patients and their close friends and families thought about their continuity of care and how satisfied they felt with it. And the factors that affected it.

Summary of results

199 people with breast cancer, lung cancer or bowel cancer took part in this study from several hospitals in London.

In 2006, the researchers analysed the results of questionnaires and interviews. They found that people thought continuity of care depended on

  • How well the first appointment at the hospital went
  • Communication between the family and the doctors and nurses
  • Communication within families
  • People’s personalities and how well families get on with each other
  • How doctors and nurses give information
  • Hospital administration

Overall, people were satisfied with their continuity of care if they were happy with the services the hospital provided.

The researchers concluded that continuity of care isn’t just about seeing the same health care professional at each hospital visit. It involves

  • The health care professional having a detailed knowledge of the patient and their family
  • Health care professionals sharing information with the patient and their family
  • How well people cope between appointments
  • What to expect in the future
  • The patient having informal support from others

The researchers also found that patients, together with the doctors and nurses, play an important role in recognising their needs. And this helps to ensure the continuity of care.

From these findings, the researchers made a number of recommendations to the NHS to help improve continuity of care for people with cancer.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

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

Professor M. King

Supported by

National Health Service (NHS)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 272

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

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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