The first report using the Cancer Related Loneliness Assessment Tool to help describe loneliness in head and neck cancer patients

Anna Dahill, Helen Al-Nakishbandi, Kathryn B. Cunningham, Gerald Humphris, Derek Lowe, Simon Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Introduction/aims: The impact of loneliness is increasingly recognised. It is associated with low quality of life, poor physical and mental health and negative prognosis for a variety of medical conditions. It is challenging to identify and assess.

Materials/methods: Patients treated for primary squamous cell head and neck cancer (HNC) in 2016/2017 were surveyed in early 2019 using the University of Washington Quality of Life questionnaire v4, the Cancer-Related Loneliness Assessment Tool (C-LAT) and four nationally recommended indicator questions. The C-LAT assesses (1) patients perceived relationship deficiencies since being diagnosed and (2) levels of distress caused by these deficiencies.

Results/statistics: The responses suggest about one-quarter of patients experience significant feelings of loneliness. Of these patients the deficiencies that caused the most distress were not participating in the activities they are used to (59%), not being treated the same as they used to (62%), not playing the same role in life that they used to (62%) and not feeling as close to their family as they used to (71%). Loneliness was associated with worse overall quality of life and physical and social–emotional functioning and was reported more in younger patients, those living in more deprived circumstances, those with more advanced disease and those having had chemo/radio therapy.

Conclusions/clinical relevance: Loneliness can be a consequence of HNC and is associated with poorer HRQOL. Using tools such as C-LAT to assess patients perceived relationship deficiencies and how much distress these cause, could help direct interventions and so have a positive impact on HRQOL.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP203
Pages (from-to)e210
Number of pages1
JournalBritish Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number10
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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