Introduction Cancer patients experience psychosocial and informant needs. The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative recommends a shift towards assessment, information provision, personalised care planning and support for self-management including assessment within the social domain. This shift may be particularly difficult to implement with people for whom the language and culture do not fit with the majority.
Aims In a sample of patients of South Asian (SA) origin to:
evaluate feasibility and acceptability of introducing assessment of social difficulties in everyday practice,
examine the range and severity of reported social difficulties,
inquire about their management.
Methods A cross-sectional study in which participants completed the Social Difficulties Inventory (SDI-21) in English, Urdu, Punjabi or Hindi followed by a semi-structured interview (subjected to Framework Analysis).
Results 26 men and 29 women (age range 18 and 80) with a range of diagnoses participated. Commonest primary languages were Urdu (n=17), Punjabi (n=17). SA cancer patients would welcome routine assessment of social difficulties as part of cancer care. They reported higher levels of social distress than found in earlier studies of white British patients. The majority self-managed their social difficulties with little discussion with clinicians, although this would have been welcomed. SA patients lacked information and were unaware of available support, especially when language was a barrier.
Conclusion Inclusive introduction of routine psychosocial assessment into cancer care requires not only appropriate screening tools but also staff trained to respond to the difficulties with knowledge of relevant information and supportive care services.
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