Palliative Care – Our Trials

Our Trials

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People with advanced cancer have lots of difficult issues to deal with. Living with cancer, having burdensome treatments and facing the end of life have a significant emotional impact. Alcohol can be used to cope with stress however it is unclear how common alcohol problems are in people with cancer. It is also not known whether alcohol problems are related to other stressors such as pain, physical disability or depression. If we have more information then we can look at ways to support people with these issues.

 

Caring for a loved one with cancer can be a difficult, stressful and lonely time. Non-professional caregivers of people with long term illness often drink alcohol to cope with the stress of caring. There is not much information about alcohol problems in the caregivers of people with cancer. Carers are generally under-represented and overlooked in studies as well as society. If we can find out if alcohol consumption is a problem in this group then we can offer help and support. It is important to look at how common alcohol problems are in people with advanced cancer and their psychological problems or carer burden.

 

This is a unique study and would enable us to develop strategies to target and improve quality of life in these groups. People with cancer and caregivers are often overlooked in terms of assessing and targeting strategies to help with alcohol problems.

Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) is constipation that occurs as a side effect of taking opioids, a major group of pain relieving medication that includes morphine and codeine. It is a very common problem, especially in cancer patients. However, it isunclear just how prevalent OIC is as previous studies have not used consistent criteria to diagnose it.

 

There are a number of treatments available to manage OIC, however it is not clear which methods should be used over others in cancer patients. A treatment plan based on current guidelines has been developed to help treatment decisions but its efficacy has not yet been tested.

 

The aims of this study are therefore:

1.       To determine exactly how common OIC is in people with cancer by using clear criteria for making a diagnosis.

2.       To determine how OIC impacts people with cancer.

3.       To investigate the efficacy of the treatment plan for OIC in cancer patients

 

The study is divided into two parts and will take place in hospitals, hospices and community healthcare settings. The first part (study 1) consists of one visit. Participants are asked to complete a series of questionnaires and are assessed by a palliative care specialist. Any adult cancer patient who has been taking opioid medications for cancer paid for at least one week is eligible to take part in Study 1. There will be 1000 participants.

 

The second part of the study (study 2) will investigate the efficacy of the treatment plan. Participants from Study 1 identified as having OIC that is inadequately treated will be invited to take part. It will consist of four visits over four weeks. At each visit, participants will complete a short questionnaire and treatment alterations may be made according to the treatment plan. Participants will also complete a bowel diary throughout the study.

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