The human cost of cancer: addressing physical, emotional & financial implications of facing cancer when living alone
People with cancer are one of the largest sections of the older population with end-of-life care needs, and many are living alone.
Around half of UK residents over the age of 65 years live in single person households and three quarters of all cancer deaths occur in this age group. More than 1.3 million people aged over 65 years have received a cancer diagnosis.
Researchers at the School of Healthcare Sciences in Cardiff University are working on a research project that looks into the physical, emotional and financial implications of facing cancer when living alone. More specifically, the project is seeking to:
- understand how physical symptoms of cancer treatment (pain, general malaise, anorexia, constipation, dyspnoea, nausea and vomiting, constipation, oedema, oral/dental problems, disturbances in sleep) are experienced and mitigated in people living alone
- understand how psychological and emotional symptoms (attentional/cognitive disturbances, depressive illness linked to physical symptoms, loneliness) are experienced and might be addressed in this population
- explore the financial challenges faced by individuals (out of pocket expenses, travel for treatment, food, heating costs, impact on household income and investigate the long term impact of surviving cancer has on financial stability)
- understand the relationship between living alone and loneliness in a range of common cancers
- identify the effect of demographics (age, gender, occupation, education, religiosity) and diagnosis (cancer type and stage) on the patient experience of those living alone
- develop appropriate deliverables for maximum patient benefit, disseminate findings and raise awareness among the wider community about how to best support people who face cancer while living alone.
Cancer survivors will be invited to take part in a telephone or face-to-face interview and participate in free art workshops held at Cardiff University between March and June 2017.
Findings will be used to produce:
- educational materials for healthcare students and staff
- support materials for cancer survivors
- a financial assistance app to help identify suitable sources of financial support for cancer survivors
- a public engagement exhibition using art produced during the project to raise awareness on cancer survivorship among the wider public.
Dr Catherine Lamont-Robinson, Arts in Health facilitator & Out of Our Heads curator, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol
Joe Offside, Manager at iappmanager, Cardiff
Julia Yandle, Advice Services Manager, Tenovus Cancer Care