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      Barriers to accessing cancer services for adults with physical disabilities in England and Wales: an interview-based study

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          The aim of this study was to explore the barriers to accessing cancer services faced by adults with pre-existing physical disabilities.


          Cross-sectional, exploratory qualitative study. Data were collected by semistructured interviews and analysed thematically.


          Participants were recruited through statutory and third sector organisations in England and Wales between October 2017 and October 2018.


          18 people with a diagnosis of cancer and a pre-existing physical disability.


          The findings illustrate that people with physical disabilities in England and Wales face a variety of barriers to accessing cancer services. The overall theme that emerged was that participants experienced a lack of attitudinal and institutional preparation both from healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities. This overall theme is illustrated through three subthemes: lack of acknowledgment of disability, unseeing disability and physical inaccessibility.


          As the population ages and increasing numbers of people live with cancer and disability, it is important to develop knowledge to respond to the needs of this population. The mere existence of services does not guarantee their usability. Services need to be relevant, flexible, and accessible and offered in a respectful manner. It is important that healthcare professionals work towards inclusive healthcare provision, enabling the utilisation of services by all. Necessary steps to be taken include better communication between the various professionals and across the different teams involved in patients’ care, raising awareness of how physical disability can affect or interact with cancer-related treatment and creating more accessible physical environments.

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          Most cited references 19

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          What does 'access to health care' mean?

          Facilitating access is concerned with helping people to command appropriate health care resources in order to preserve or improve their health. Access is a complex concept and at least four aspects require evaluation. If services are available and there is an adequate supply of services, then the opportunity to obtain health care exists, and a population may 'have access' to services. The extent to which a population 'gains access' also depends on financial, organisational and social or cultural barriers that limit the utilisation of services. Thus access measured in terms of utilisation is dependent on the affordability, physical accessibility and acceptability of services and not merely adequacy of supply. Services available must be relevant and effective if the population is to 'gain access to satisfactory health outcomes'. The availability of services, and barriers to access, have to be considered in the context of the differing perspectives, health needs and material and cultural settings of diverse groups in society. Equity of access may be measured in terms of the availability, utilisation or outcomes of services. Both horizontal and vertical dimensions of equity require consideration. Copyright The Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd 2002.
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            The impact of comorbidity on cancer and its treatment.

            Answer questions and earn CME/CNE Comorbidity is common among cancer patients and, with an aging population, is becoming more so. Comorbidity potentially affects the development, stage at diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of people with cancer. Despite the intimate relationship between comorbidity and cancer, there is limited consensus on how to record, interpret, or manage comorbidity in the context of cancer, with the result that patients who have comorbidity are less likely to receive treatment with curative intent. Evidence in this area is lacking because of the frequent exclusion of patients with comorbidity from randomized controlled trials. There is evidence that some patients with comorbidity have potentially curative treatment unnecessarily modified, compromising optimal care. Patients with comorbidity have poorer survival, poorer quality of life, and higher health care costs. Strategies to address these issues include improving the evidence base for patients with comorbidity, further development of clinical tools to assist decision making, improved integration and coordination of care, and skill development for clinicians. CA Cancer J Clin 2016;66:337-350. © 2016 American Cancer Society.
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              Barriers and strategies affecting the utilisation of primary preventive services for people with physical disabilities: a qualitative inquiry.

              Individuals with physical disabilities are less likely to utilise primary preventive healthcare services than the general population. At the same time they are at greater risk for secondary conditions and as likely as the general population to engage in health risk behaviours. This qualitative exploratory study had two principal objectives: (1) to investigate access barriers to obtaining preventive healthcare services for adults with physical disabilities and (2) to identify strategies to increase access to these services. We conducted five focus group interviews with adults (median age: 46) with various physically disabling conditions. Most participants were male Caucasians residing in Virginia, USA. Study participants reported a variety of barriers that prevented them from receiving the primary preventive services commonly recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force. We used a health services framework to distinguish structural-environmental (to include inaccessible facilities and examination equipment) or process barriers (to include a lack of disability-related provider knowledge, respect, and skilled assistance during office visits). Participants suggested a range of strategies to address these barriers including disability-specific continuing education for providers, the development of accessible prevention-focused information portals for people with physical disabilities, and consumer self-education, and assertiveness in requesting recommended services. Study findings point to the need for a more responsive healthcare system to effectively meet the primary prevention needs of people with physical disabilities. The authors propose the development of a consumer- and provider-focused resource and information kit that reflects the strategies that were suggested by study participants.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                27 June 2019
                : 9
                : 6
                [1 ] School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University , Cardiff, UK
                [2 ] Wales Cancer Network , Cardiff, UK
                [3 ] Health and Care Research Wales , Cardiff, UK
                [4 ] departmentInternational Centre for Evidence in Disability , London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine , London, UK
                [5 ] Lay Advisory Group Member , Cardiff, UK
                [6 ] Lay Advisory Group Member , Llandudno, UK
                [7 ] departmentSchool of Social Sciences , Monash University , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Dikaios Sakellariou; sakellarioud@
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

                Funded by: Tenovus Cancer Care;
                Patient-Centred Medicine
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