Cancer patients 'left in the dark' about the 'basics' of disease

Macmillan Cancer Support has said thousands of people diagnosed with cancer a year are missing out on key information amid record NHS vacancies and unmanageable staff workloads.

The charity said at least 120,000 people a year are missing out on key information about ‘the basics’ of their disease, including treatment options, potential side effects or the impact of cancer on their day-to-day life.

Figures from Macmillan Cancer Support reveal around one in seven of those recently treated for cancer – around 45,000 people each year in England – did not have their treatment options fully explained before starting treatment.

One in four – around 76,000 people a year – did not have the possible side-effects of treatment fully explained before starting treatment.

More than a third – around 120,000 people each year – said the longer-term side-effects of treatment were not fully explained.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Study: The impact of translated reminder letters and phone calls

A new study has looked at the impact of translating reminder letters and phone calls on mammography screening rates.

Participation in mammographic screening for breast cancer in Australia is approximately 54% among the general population, but screening among women from some culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is lower.

BreastScreen Victoria applies strategies to increase screening including reminder letters and phone calls. However, these are usually provided in English. 

Translated mammography reminder letters and in-language phone calls were tested within two randomised control trials.

Researchers found sending letters in a preferred language showed no difference to letters in English.

However, making a telephone call to women in their preferred language was more than 10 times more effective than usual care. 


Campaign on older people's mental health

Age UK and NHS England have launched an awareness campaign on the benefit of talking therapy for older people. 

An open letter by both organisations asks GPs to improve access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services by increasing referrals to talking therapies for older people. 

They want to ensure all primary care and IAPT staff are aware of the campaign and the need to better support older people’s mental health. 

The campaign can be followed and supported on social media using #TalkingHelps. 

Age UK

Study: Electronic health tools among vulnerable groups

A study has examined whether the design and implementation characteristics of eHealth tools contribute to better use among vulnerable groups.

The authors said, although the advantages of these tools are well described, it is unknown to what extent they are effective when used by vulnerable population groups.

They concluded eHealth tools with multimodal content and the possibility for direct communication with providers have a higher adherence among vulnerable groups. 

However, most are not embedded within the health care system. 

They are usually focused on specific problems rather than providing comprehensive services for patients. 

This limits the use of eHealth tools as a replacement for existing health care services.

JMIR Publications

Getting it right on social prescribing

In this blog, National Voices chief executive Charlotte Augst talks about the benefits of social prescribing and how to make it work.

She emphasises the importance of strong relationships and close collaboration between the VCSE sector and local health and care systems to make social prescribing work.

National Voices

What is an online consultation?

NHS England has published a new two-page leaflet to help patients understand online consultations.

The leaflet answers common questions and outlines some of the potential benefits. It is available to download from the NHS England website.

NHS England

How do people find blood cancer information online?

A survey has examined how people find information on Myeloproliferative Neoplasm (MPN) online.

The authors said little is known about MPN patients’ understanding of their own disease and their use of online and social media to gain more information. 

Addressing this gap could help improve access to accurate resources about rare, complex cancers. 

A 38-item online questionnaire assessed MPN knowledge and awareness, demographic and clinical characteristics, and use of online resources.

While the patient sample cohort reported actively using online resources to seek information about their disease and treatment, results showed gaps in basic knowledge. 

Based on this information, the authors say innovative proposals can be put forward to augment the patient experience and understanding of their MPN. 

The findings also suggested an important difference in online and social media habits of physicians compared to patients. 

Physicians and investigators are rapidly adopting Twitter as their preferred medium for sharing medical knowledge. 

However, patients may prefer other mediums such as Facebook, Google, or YouTube. 

This finding suggests MPN educational campaigns should be designed to fit a variety of online platforms to maximise reach and impact.

Patient Power

Webinars: Making Integrated Care Happen

IFIC Ireland is set to host a series of six webinars around the topic of Making Integrated Care Happen.

The first will be held on 18 February and is titled Social Prescribing: Initiatives on the Island of Ireland.

Later webinars will cover end-of-life care and understanding the social determinants of health, with more titles set to be announced in the coming months.

International Foundation for Integrated Care

Webinar: The Multiple Conditions Guidebook

The Taskforce on Multiple Conditions is hosting a webinar exploring two of the case studies published in The Multiple Conditions Guidebook.

The webinar, which takes place from 1pm on 6 March will include a summary of findings, advice on how to use the guidebook and an exploration of techniques for change.

There will also be the opportunity to ask questions about the guidebook.

The Taskforce On Multiple Conditions

Abbreviations, acronyms and other healthcare shorthand

In her latest advice blog, Helen Osborne offers advice on communicating more clearly and avoiding the use of confusing abbreviations and acronyms.

She says, while they have their place as a form of shorthand, they should be used as deliberate tools to improve understanding rather than out of habit.

Health Literacy Consulting

Digital health lab resources

A series of resources providing evidence and guidance to help increase digital health inclusion are available on The Good Things Foundation website.

Digital health lab was produced as part of the foundation's work with the NHS and other partners to bring digital health inclusion to those people who are most excluded and for whom digital can have the biggest benefit.

It is developing more than 20 pathfinders modelling ways to engage and support the most excluded groups.

Current themes include co-design, older people and health hubs.

Disadvantaged groups, health professional and long-term conditions themes are set to be published soon.

Digital Health Lab