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Research project: Older women's experience of breast cancer and other health conditions - Dormant - Dormant

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Women with breast cancer aged over 70 years are less likely to use existing sources of information and support than younger women. The reasons for this are poorly understood. One reason may be that these services are largely tailored to women coping with cancer as their main or only health condition. Older women may, however, be living with other health conditions in addition to their breast cancer



  • To explore older women's experience of living with breast cancer, with particular emphasis on living with breast cancer alongside other health conditions
  • To identify their information and support needs and preferences in the context of breast cancer and other health conditions
  • To evaluate existing informational material from the perspective of older women with breast cancer alongside other health conditions
  • To make recommendations about the development of alternative material, and to use study findings to inform the development of innovative and appropriate interventions to enhance quality of life in older women living with breast cancer alongside other conditions

Plan of investigation
This study uses qualitative research methods to address the research aims. We propose to interview in-depth 30 older women with breast cancer. We will use maximum variation sampling to ensure that our sample includes women with a range of difference experiences: women in three different age groups (70 to 79, 80 � 89, 90+), in three different stages of breast cancer (initial treatment, remission, following recurrence), with less than three concurrent health conditions and with more than three, in three different living arrangements (alone, living with spouse/family/others, care home), and from different socio-economic groups. We will recruit our sample through the breast cancer clinics in Southampton. We will also explore with users whether there are other appropriate and effective ways of recruiting older women with breast cancer. Those who agree to participate will be interviewed in their own homes, or in another place of their choice.

The interviews will focus on

 1) elucidating the participant's experience of breast cancer, of other health conditions and the interaction between the two and

2) exploring the participant's information and support needs and preferences. The participant will then comment on current breast cancer informational and support material, and make recommendations for change. The interviews will be tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using the Framework approach. This method is commonly used in health services research where (as in this study) the analysis is based partially on the aims and objectives of the study but also on new emergent issues arising from participant perspectives. Findings and recommendations will be disseminated to older women (with users taking the lead in this), health professionals and academics in order to influence practice as well as future research. A Reference Group of older women with breast cancer will work closely with the research team throughout the life of the study and will participate in finalising the research design, in data analysis and interpretation, and in dissemination. There will also be an Advisory Group of health professionals, academics and members of the reference group.

Project team

Julia Addington-Hall, Claire Foster, Debbie Fenlon

Project funder

Macmillan Cancer Support User Led Grant Award

Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes
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