Uncovering the challenges of managing cachexia in advanced cancer: Preliminary results from semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals in a regional cancer centre

Claire Millar, Joanne Reid, Samuel Porter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Background: Cancer cachexia is a complex metabolic syndrome characterised by severe and progressive weight loss which is predominantly muscle mass. It is a devastating and distressing complication of advanced cancer with profound bio-psycho-social implications for patients and their families. At present there is no curative treatment for cachexiain advanced cancer therefore the most important healthcare response entails the minimisation of the psycho-social distress associated with it. However the literature suggests healthcare professionals’are missing opportunities to intervene and respond to the multi-dimensional needs of this population.

Objective:The objective of this study was to explore healthcare professionals’ response to cachexia in advanced cancer.

Methods: An interpretative qualitative approach was adopted in this study. A purposive sample of doctors, nurses, specialist nurses and dieticians were recruited from a regional cancer centre between November 2009 and November 2010. Data was collection was twofold: two multi-professional focus groups were conducted first to uncover the main themes and issues in cachexia management. This data then informed the interview schedule for the following 25 individual semi-structured interviews.

Results: Preliminary data analysis of the semi-structured interviews revealed distinct differences between disciplines in their perceptions of cancer cachexia which influenced their response to it in clinical practice. The commonality between disciplines, with the exception of palliative care, was a reliance on the biomedical approach to cancer cachexia management.

Discussion and Conclusions: Cancer cachexia is a complex and challenging syndrome which needs to be addressed from a holistic model of care to reflect the multi-dimensional needs of this patient group. The perspectives of those involved in care delivery is required in order to inform the development of interventions aimed at minimising the distress associated with this devastating syndrome.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 2011 International Nursing Research Conference: Book of Abstracts
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2011
EventRCN International Nursing Research Conference - Harrogate, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 May 201118 May 2011

Conference

ConferenceRCN International Nursing Research Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityHarrogate
Period16/05/201118/05/2011

Bibliographical note

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