Enabling people with dementia to access and receive cancer treatment and care: The crucial role of supportive networks.

Surr C, C and Kelley, R and Griffiths, AW and Ashley, L and Cowdell, Fiona and Henry, A and Collinson, M and Mason, E and Farrin, A (2020) Enabling people with dementia to access and receive cancer treatment and care: The crucial role of supportive networks. Journal of Geriatric Oncology. ISSN 1879-4068

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Objectives: Despite cancer and dementia being conditions in which prevalence increases with age, there remains limited research on the cancer treatment and care needs of this population. Our study aimed to address this gap and this paper reports on the role of supportive networks in enabling people with dementia to access cancer treatment and care.
Materials and methods: An ethnographic study involving 17 people with cancer and dementia, 22 relatives and 19 oncology staff. It comprised observations (46 hrs) of and informal conversations during oncology appointments attended by people with dementia and their relatives and semi-structured interviews (n=37) with people living with cancer and dementia, their relatives and staff working in various roles across oncology services. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Patients and oncology staff relied on and expected relatives to provide practical and emotional support around cancer treatment and care. Families varied in their ability to provide required support due to extent of the family network, practical issues, knowledge of the patient and their wishes, family conflict and the patient’s willingness to accept help. Where no family network was available, support provision was complex and this could compromise access to cancer treatment.
Conclusions: People with comorbid cancer and dementia rely heavily on a supportive family network to access treatment and care. Oncology services need to assess the supportive networks available to individual patients in developing cancer treatment plans. Urgent consideration needs to be given to how those with no family networks can be appropriately supported.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jgo.2020.03.015
26 March 2020Accepted
4 April 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alzheimer's disease Cancer Dementia Treatment Care Support Ethnography Family carers Support networks Oncology
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-04 - nursing and midwifery > CAH02-04-01 - nursing (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Depositing User: Fiona Cowdell
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2020 07:52
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:37
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9088

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