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The University of Southampton
Macmillan Survivorship Research Group

Supporting Relatives study

Supporting relatives: An investigation into obstacles and aids to information exchange within families affected by cancer


This study responds to the top priority area identified in the Macmillan Listening Study. We explored the consequences of cancer for partners and other family members, with particular emphasis on talking about cancer within the family and the how this can be supported. Listening Study participants identified this as an area of unmet need. Evidence suggests that patients and relatives can have difficulty talking together about cancer. This can limit access to information about diagnosis, prognosis and treatment because patients are often the key source of information within the family. Talking openly about cancer has been associated with better adaptation to changes brought about by cancer and greater emotional well-being. Being unable to talk openly has been related to greater anxiety. The systematic appraisal of literature relating to the Listening Study's top priority area revealed little evidence to inform how best to support partners and relatives. Undertaking research in this area fits well with the core interests of Macmillan Cancer Support, by giving voice to under-represented people (relatives) and helping people affected by cancer by supporting self-management.


Study report available


If you have any queries regarding this study please contact the MSRG on 02080 596885, or email

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