Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

The challenges and successes of an online Cancer Treatment Support programme

Post By Sarah Churchward, Evaluation Lead Penny Brohn UK

Supporting people with cancer through active treatment

Penny Brohn UK has provided specific support to people going through active cancer treatment for many years. Every Monday a small group would come together at the charity’s therapeutic centre in Pill, near Bristol. The session was led by an integrative doctor and cancer nurse specialist and included complementary therapy such as acupuncture; the aim being to explore ways to manage treatment and its many side-effects.

When COVID-19 lockdown restrictions came into effect in March 2020, all face-to-face services were suspended.

Moving to online cancer support

Penny Brohn UK worked quickly to take cancer support services online in 2020.

It took a little longer to create specific cancer treatment support online that mirrored the in-person service.  However, in February 2021, a new online Cancer Treatment Support pilot launched.

The overall aim of the programme is to help people going through active treatment to develop resilience, minimise treatment side-effects, improve wellbeing and reduce their chances of cancer progression and/or recurrence.

The main point of difference from the in-person version is that this support is now accessible to people with cancer across the UK, and even internationally. People who were not able to attend Penny Brohn UK in person before COVID – due to health reasons or geography – are now able to take part from the comfort of their own homes.

Involving people with cancer in shaping the service

Since its launch, participants have been helping to shape the service by providing feedback and attending focus groups.  The evaluation has helped to improve the programme and to understand its impact on those taking part.

We are grateful to all the participants for taking the time to share their experiences of this new service.

Evaluation

The evaluation of the programme is ongoing; this is to ensure we are meeting the needs of all those taking part and to better understand the longer-term impact of the programme. However, we are pleased to share our findings to date and highlight the difference we are making for people going through cancer treatment.

We have collated our findings from the first four programmes held between February and May 2021 in this evaluation summary. We also shared our findings at the Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO) international conference in October 2021 – Watch a 10 minute presentation by Dr Catherine Zollman.

We have found that the impact so far seems to be even greater than the in-person equivalent. Our findings show that participants’ cancer related concerns have been significantly reduced, their wellbeing has improved, and they have made lifestyle changes. The issues we have identified, and are working on resolving, include:

  • The challenge of meeting diverse needs online
  • The volume of information in the programme
  • The time commitment needed to participate
  • The need to facilitate more peer support.

We are excited to be able to offer an accessible service at such an important and challenging time in people’s cancer journeys.

For more information about the evaluation, please get in touch with Sarah Churchward, Evaluation Lead (job share) research@pennybrohn.org.uk.

If you are going through active cancer treatment and would like to sign up to the programme, please visit  https://www.pennybrohn.org.uk/sessions/online-cancer-treatment-support/

The challenges and successes of an online Cancer Treatment Support programme

The challenges and successes of an online Cancer Treatment Support programmeThe challenges and successes of an online Cancer Treatment Support programme

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