Understanding the demand and unmet need for psychological cancer care in the community
evidence and practice    

Understanding the demand and unmet need for psychological cancer care in the community

Jessica Lawler Research Associate, London South Bank University, London, England
Alison Leary Chair of Healthcare and Workforce Modelling, London South Bank University, London, England
Lydia Lofton Workforce Transformation Lead, Health Education England, Leeds, England
Dave Bushe Project Manager, London South Bank University, London, England

Why you should read this article
  • To acknowledge the psychological care needs of people living with cancer and their families and carers

  • To understand why there are unmet needs for psychological cancer care in the community

  • To gain insight into the views of primary and community healthcare professionals on provision of psychological cancer care

Background Cancer policy has long called for improved access to psychological care for people living with cancer and their carers. However, the psychological effects of cancer and its treatment remain a neglected area of care.

Aim To explore the views of primary and community healthcare professionals in London on their provision of psychological care for people living with cancer and their families and carers.

Method In this service evaluation, an exploratory sequential design was used to survey and interview primary and community care staff in London about their cancer care work. Descriptive integration was used to merge the quantitative data from the questionnaires and the qualitative data from the interviews to enable comparison and analysis.

Findings Questionnaire responses were received from 92 staff and seven interviews were conducted. It was identified that participants wanted to offer more psychological care, including peer support groups, and that further training in this area is necessary. Participants also reported that care for family and carers was lacking. GPs’ and district and community nurses’ provision of bereavement care was reported to be not only reactive, but also variable across London and without clear structure or protocol. Psychological care was suggested to be a driver of secondary workload.

Conclusion Psychological care for people with cancer and their carers in primary and community care settings is not meeting demand and requires increased resourcing in terms of funding and time.

Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1680

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

lawlerj2@lsbu.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Lawler J, Leary A, Lofton L et al (2020) Understanding the demand and unmet need for psychological cancer care in the community. Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1680

Accepted 6 December 2019

Published online: 28 February 2020