Uncovering the hidden workload involved in providing cancer care in the community
evidence and practice    

Uncovering the hidden workload involved in providing 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, London, England
Dave Bushe Project Manager, London South Bank University, London, England

Why you should read this article
  • To enhance your awareness of the unrecognised work involved in cancer care

  • To recognise the challenges that primary care and community staff commonly experience in diagnosing and caring for people with cancer

  • To understand the importance of recognising and recording hidden workload to improve cancer care delivery and coordination

Background While the workload of primary care healthcare professionals in the UK is increasing, the precise nature of the work involved in caring for people with cancer has not been explicitly defined.

Aim To explore the opinions of a small group of primary and community healthcare professionals in London, England about the workload involved in caring for people with cancer, as well as to identify elements of the role that are unrecorded.

Method This evaluation used a mixed-methods approach that followed an exploratory sequential design to survey and interview primary and community care staff in London. 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 The questionnaire received 92 responses and seven interviews were completed. Interviews revealed that the recording systems of healthcare organisations did not effectively capture healthcare professionals’ cancer care workload. Participants reported the unpredictable nature of cancer care, with people often presenting with vague symptoms. Participants also reported the unrecognised but essential work that they often undertook, such as developing relationships with people with cancer and their families.

Conclusion Healthcare professionals working in primary care identified that there are elements of the workload involved in cancer care that are hidden and unrecognised, such as developing relationships with people with cancer and their families. Effectively recording and recognising the hidden workload involved in caring for people with cancer has the potential to improve cancer care delivery and coordination.

Primary Health Care. doi: 10.7748/phc.2020.e1610

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) Uncovering the hidden workload involved in providing cancer care in the community. Primary Health Care. doi: 10.7748/phc.2020.e1610

Published online: 12 February 2020