Health-promoting communities for families affected by cancer: a qualitative study (#589)
Background: Ensuring the information and support needs of people affected by cancer are met presents a considerable public health challenge. Information needs alter throughout the cancer journey, indicating the need for flexible and ongoing access to information. Information needs are inextricably linked with emotions such as hope, fear, anxiety and depression.
Objective: To examine experiences of receiving information and support for people affected by cancer, as part of a larger formative evaluation of two community-based cancer information and support services.
Methods: Thirty service users and twenty professionals were purposefully sampled, and interviewed about their experiences and views of a cancer information and support service. Accounts were examined using thematic analysis.
Results: Participants perceived information and support as intersecting. Participants valued access to lay knowledge and peer support, which was seen as augmenting healthcare professional knowledge and support. People affected by cancer benefitted from the development of community networks for the provision of information and support. Indeed, the co-location of information and support services in the community was felt to provide additional levels of support throughout people experiences of cancer.
Conclusion: Embedding support and information services in the community draws on health promotion principles, which privilege the creation of supportive environments, strengthening of community action and the reorientation of health services away from individualistic clinical approaches. Thus, acknowledging the significant role of community networks improves care since it impacts the context which shape people’s experiences of cancer from health-beliefs, through to diagnosis, survivorship and end-of-life care.