Cancer and serious mental illness – patient, caregiver and professional perspectives: study protocol

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Aim: To explore the experience of serious mental illness and cancer from the perspective of patients, significant others and healthcare professionals involved in their care. Background: Serious mental illness is associated with poorer cancer outcomes. Those suffering from this comorbidity receive fewer specialist interventions and die earlier than the general population. Prior qualitative research in this area has comprised of a single study focussing on healthcare professionals and there is little evidence regarding the experiences of patients and caregivers.Design: A qualitative exploration using approximately 36 semi-structured interviews.Methods: Semi-structured digitally recorded interviews conducted with: adults living with serious mental illness and diagnosed with cancer; those providing them with informal support and care; and healthcare professionals. Questions will focus on the experience of having cancer and serious mental illness or caring for someone with this comorbidity, experiences of healthcare and priorities for patients and carers. Framework analysis will be used. Research Ethics Committee and Trust Research & Development approval was obtained. A steering group comprising six people with experience of either cancer or mental illness provided feedback and ratified the patient information sheets and interview schedules. Discussion: There is a paucity of research addressing stakeholder perspectives on the experience of cancer and of cancer services for people with serious mental illness. Dissemination of findings will inform practice relating to the care of an often neglected population, informing better support for their significant others and the professionals involved in their care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number1
Early online date11 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • cancer
  • mental illness
  • professional perspectives
  • carer perspective
  • patient perspective


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