Hilary Brown

Thesis title: Optimising the care and support for people with inoperable pancreatic cancer and their family-carers

Start year: 2021

Contact: 19154077@brookes.ac.uk

Supervisor(s): Dr Lucy McGeagh, Professor Eila Watson

Research topic

Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the UK with approximately 9,000 people diagnosed each year. Survival rates are low, only 1 in 4 (25.4%) people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England survive their disease for one year or more.

Surgery is the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer, but at present, less than 1 in 10 (10%) of patients are deemed eligible for surgery at diagnosis. If the cancer is inoperable,  treatment then consists of ‘best supportive care’ or ‘palliative care’ to manage symptoms and maintain optimal quality of life. Such care might address symptoms such as pain, digestive discomfort, or depression.

Given the poor prognosis and the inevitable distress caused by a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, enhancing the quality of life for people, through high quality supportive care, is of prime importance yet evidence shows that there are gaps in care and sub-optimal support in some cases.

This study takes a qualitative, longitudinal approach incorporating experience based co-design (EBCD) principles. Through the EBCD process, patients, family carers and staff share their own experiences through a series of interviews, and then identify and agree improvement priorities through a series of workshops.

Professor Annie Topping, Head of the School of Nursing at the University of Birmingham, is a co-supervisor on the study.