Experiences of the Older Person with Cancer
: A qualitative study of medical and specialist ward settings

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis combines two research strands: cancer patients’ experiences and care of the older person. Previous cancer research has identified that health care professionals may treat older people with cancer differently, perceiving them as having less power; offering fewer treatment options; and less access to specialist cancer care. This qualitative study seeks to illuminate and compare the experiences of patients and health care professionals in two contrasting hospital wards (specialist and medical).
    This study considers how cancer patients manage their psychological and social needs. It also explores the challenges for health care professionals. Purposive sampling captures diversity of patient and health care professionals’ perceptions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients and focus groups and semi-structured interviews with professionals. Analysis highlighted commonalities and also different emphasis accorded to issues such as societal perceptions, expectations of care, life stage, relationships, identity, and emotions.
    The hospital serves as a ‘halfway house’ for patients, allowing them to work through challenges in a ‘protected’ environment. However, health care professionals had difficulties addressing the future and managing some therapeutic opportunities. These are discussed using the thematic codes of ‘professional etiquette’, and types of emotional engagement with patients. Although older people with cancer are often perceived as a homogenous group they may have varying psychosocial needs. Moreover, patients’ understanding is frequently more sophisticated than professionals acknowledge.
    Finally the thesis will discuss the implications of this research for professional education, assessment and provision of care for the older person with cancer.

    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRosaline Barbour (Supervisor) & Joanne Corlett (Supervisor)

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