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The social difficulties of cancer patients of South Asian Indian and Pakistani origin: a cross-sectional questionnaire and interview study
  1. Nimarta Dharni1,
  2. Naheed Hanif2,
  3. Chris Bradley2,
  4. Galina Velikova3,
  5. Dan Stark3 and
  6. Penny Wright3
  1. 1King's College London, Division of Health and Social Care Research, UK
  2. 2Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK
  3. 3Cancer Research UK Psychosocial Oncology and Clinical Practice Research Group, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Penny Wright, Cancer Research UK Psychosocial Oncology and Clinical Practice Research Group, St James's Institute of Oncology, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK; e.p.wright{at}


Objectives To evaluate, in a sample of patients of South Asian (SA) origin, the acceptability of introducing assessment of social difficulties in everyday practice, examine the range and severity of reported social difficulties and inquire about their management.

Design 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.

Participants Participants comprised 26 men and 29 women of SA origin ranging between 18 and 80 years of age. The commonest primary languages were Urdu (n=17) and Punjabi (n=17). English was the primary language of three participants. A range of cancer diagnoses and stages of disease were represented.

Setting Patients were recruited from outpatient haematology and oncology clinics in Bradford, Airedale and Leeds hospitals.

Results SA cancer patients welcomed routine assessment of social difficulties as part of their cancer care. They reported higher levels of social distress than found in earlier studies of white British patients. The majority managed their social difficulties themselves with little discussion with the clinical team, although, at times, this would have been welcomed. SA patients lacked information and were unaware of the support available to them, especially when language was a barrier.

Conclusions Introduction of routine assessment of social difficulties into cancer care will require not only relevant and accessible screening tools such as the SDI-21, but also staff trained to respond to the difficulties disclosed, with knowledge of information sources and supportive care services when patients request these.

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  • Funding This paper presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (grant reference number PB-PG-0706–10284). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Funding for NH was from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Research and Development Unit.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by Bradford Research Ethics Committee (reference 07/Q1202/43) and NHS Research and Development.