Dikaios Sakellariou 1 , Sally Anstey 1 , Sarah Gaze 1 , Eleri Girt 2 , Daniel Kelly 1 , Barbara Moore 3 , Sarah Polack 4 , Roger Pratt 5 , Gill Tyrer 6 , Narelle Warren 7 , Wendy Wilkinson 2 , Molly Courtenay 1
27 June 2019
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.
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.