Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at the continuity of care for people with 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
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 (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor M. King
National Health Service (NHS)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)