Cancer Health Services and Survivorship Research Programme

There are two main areas of research within this programme:

  1.  Research into cancer awareness and early detection
  2.  Research focussing on the health and psychosocial well-being of people with cancer and the evaluation of the quality of cancer care, including ways in which cancer services are organised and delivered (survivorship research).

This research agenda reflects key areas of action set out in the National Cancer Reform Strategy (2007): living with and beyond cancer and delivering care in the appropriate setting.

  1.  Research into cancer awareness and early detection
Funding has been obtained through the National Awareness and Early Detection Initiative (NAEDI) for a project to examine personal, disease and service factors associated with early death for lung or colorectal cancer.

The group, especially Dr Anna Gavin, is a key participant in the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership – a study of the root causes of differences in cancer survival for breast, colorectal, lung and ovarian cancers.  This partnership involved researchers from NI, Wales, England, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia and Canada.  The Northern Irish component of the work is funded by PHA, GAIN and Macmillan Cancer Support.

  2.  Cancer Survivorship Research

Recently completed and ongoing studies in this area include: 

Establishment and evaluation of a self management programme for prostate cancer patients and their partners.  This 3 year project, funded by Cancer Focus is a collaboration with the University of Ulster.

The relationship between illness perceptions including ‘fear of recurrence’ and coping and quality of life among survivors of oesophageal cancer and their family carers.  This study, which involved sending questionnaires to all alive members of the the UK Oesophageal Patients Association is almost completed.  Analysis and write-up is ongoing (collaboration with Dr Martin Dempster, School of Psychology, QUB).

Why do cancer patients die in hospital’ funded by Cancer Focus Northern Ireland formerly known as The Ulster Cancer foundation involves a retrospective note review based in the N. Ireland Cancer registry.  This work is being followed up by a study linked with the Cicely Saunders Institute on factors that enable cancer patients to die at home.

Systematic reviews being undertaken in this field include:
  •  A (Cochrane) systematic review of psychosocial interventions for cancer patients.
  •  A (Cochrane) systematic review of multidimensional rehabilitation programmes for cancer survivors.
  •  A systematic review of the effect of lycopene supplementation on survival in prostate cancer patients.
  •  A systematic review of methods of measuring the health-related quality of life of pancreatic cancer patients.