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ADOPTED (PhD): PREPARE-to-ACT study: Preparing for and Responding to Emergencies – A multi-phased qualitative investigation of Patients’ And members of their RElational networks’ decisions to use urgent and emergency care during Anti-Cancer Treatment

Principal Investigator: John Defty, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Start: September 2022

Ends: September 2026


Complications of anti-cancer treatment can be life threatening . Anti-cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy, are increasingly provided on a day-case basis , meaning that complications occur at home and necessitate a response from urgent and emergency care services . Evidence suggests people receiving anti-cancer treatment delay seeking help despite access to dedicated emergency care (acute oncology services) . Focus of research to date has been for what reasons and when , rather than how and why, people with cancer use these services.

Evidence suggests patients and informal carers rely on prior instructions from cancer specialists to identify and interpret the severity of complications but find relating to this information difficult when acutely unwell . Emergency ‘contingency planning’ was identified as a priority for improving the safety of anti-cancer treatment but, there are few studies that describe how pre-treatment emergency planning influences help-seeking for complications of anti-cancer treatment . With the number of people eligible for anti-cancer treatment expected to rise by two million by 2040, the need for research is now urgent.

Results from our scoping review (completed; drafted for publication) suggest preparing for and making sense of urgent and emergency care is hard work for people with cancer. It also revealed poor understanding of how this work might differ for people receiving different types of treatment. This study aims to address these gaps by answering the question: ‘How do patients and informal carers prepare and seek help for complications of different anti-cancer treatments?’

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