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Research project: An exploration of the manifestations, management and meaning of weight loss and eating difficulties in people with advanced cancer: Phase II. - Dormant - Dormant

Currently Active: 

Phase I of this project reviewed existing knowledge of the experience of loss of weight and loss of appetite for patients with advanced cancer, and their carers (Poole and Froggatt, 2002). It is clear from the findings of the reviewed studies that issues around food intake and weight loss cross the hospital and home care settings. The meaning of progressive and irreversible emaciation and the change or absence of the desire for food have not been explored in the UK, despite evidence that these symptoms are clearly problematic for carers and have a negative impact upon the quality of life of people with advanced cancer. These findings have informed the development of the Phase II proposal.


The study has the following aims:

  • To establish the prevalence of weight loss and eating difficulties in people with advanced cancer referred to two palliative care teams.
  • To identify changes (physical, social and emotional) associated with weight loss and eating difficulties, from the perspective of people with advanced cancer, and also from the perspective of their professional and lay carers.      
  • To identify ways that professionals, in two different multi-disciplinary palliative care teams, manage weight loss and eating difficulties in people with advanced cancer.
  • To establish the strategies which patients and their families find helpful in enabling them to cope with weight loss and eating difficulties.
  • To explore the meaning of weight loss and eating difficulties for people with advanced cancer, their families and their professional carers.

An ethnographic approach and a case study design will be used. The cases will be two palliative care teams. The teams will enable access to people with advanced cancer being managed in both primary and secondary care. Data will be collected from the following sources:

  • Retrospective patient record review.
  • Weight loss and eating difficulty screening tool.
  • Review of documentation and policies.
  • Observational field notes.
  • Interviews with patients.
  • Interviews with non-professional carers (identified by the patient.)
  • Interviews with healthcare professionals working within or in collaboration with the palliative care teams.
  • Focus groups held with each of the palliative care teams.

Project team

Jessica Corner 

Project funder

Macmillan Cancer Relief

Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes

Key Publications

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