Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Measuring our impact

Service Evaluation at Penny Brohn UK

All of our services are evaluated to understand the impact our courses have on people’s health and wellbeing, and to ensure we maintain a high standard and quality of service.

The Research and Evaluation team take a mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) approach to collecting evidence and gathering data via carefully structured questionnaires. Responsibly gathered and carefully checked data means objective, high-quality reporting enabling us to produce publications which document our findings.

In June 2016, we published our latest evidence - an evaluation report on our Wellness Package, which included our flagship Living Well course, plus 12 months of follow-up support. The package was funded by the Department of Health, reaching 519 people over 18 months. You can also download the snapshot of the report here.

The main findings showed that most participants on the course experienced:

  • Reduced cancer-related worry and stress
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Increased Patient Activation
  • Improved lifestyle - meaning better diet, increased exercise and stress management
  • Improved relationships
  • Better self-management of health: reduced reliance on GPs and NHS services

Key tools

MYCaW (Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing)

Developed by Dr Charlotte Paterson at the University of Bristol, MYCaW is a validated, person-centred outcome measure, designed specifically for the evaluation of cancer support services.

The MYCaW questionnaire measures the impact of cancer support services on the severity of each client's cancer-related concerns and wellbeing. Penny Brohn has helped to develop MYCaW over many years, including the accompanying qualitative coding guidelines.

PAM - the Patient Activation Measure

The Patient Activation Measure - or PAM for short - is an internationally-used and validated patient questionnaire, which measures the level of activation. This is the skills, knowledge and confidence that a person has to manage their own health.

We also use bespoke Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs) and Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) tailored to each of our services.

Experts in service evaluation

The team of research psychologists here at Penny Brohn UK are experts in developing evidence-based cancer survivorship services.

The team follow an objective approach to gathering and analysing the impact of our services on the people who we help. We’ve developed this approach for over ten years and have an extensive portfolio of research.

We work closely with the Services team to capture the experiences of our clients, and use that data to develop new programmes and refine existing practices. We regularly present our work externally at conferences and in respected peer-reviewed journals.

We also write evidence based information sheets on the complementary therapies offered at Penny Brohn UK. We are proud that these sheets have been awarded NHS England’s Information Standard kite mark of quality.

To stay up-to-date with our research and findings, follow us on Twitter or contact us at

Leaders in self-management education

Realising the Value

The strong evidence base we’ve gathered over the years, alongside the careful measuring and recording of our impact means we’re leading the way in the area of self-management education. We’re proud to be part of the Realising the Value programme, commissioned by NHS England, which is,

“strengthening the case for people taking an active role in their healthcare”.

Realising the Value builds on the commitments set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View, championing changes in the UK healthcare system so that people and communities are put at the heart of health and wellbeing.

webinar realising the valueRealising the Value recognised Penny Brohn as an example of best practice in self-management education, or self-care. Our Research and Evaluation Team’s data has been fed into Realising the Value, including a model to show potential economic benefits of self-management education.

Our work on this project and our expertise in gathering Patient Activation Measure data is also enabling us to support our local (Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire) Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The well-evidenced services delivered by Penny Brohn are a perfect fit for both local and national self-management health plans.

In 2010, we played an active role in the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative, a study conducted by NHS England, Macmillan and the Department of Health. This led to the development of ‘The Recovery Package’ for people with cancer. The Recovery Package ensures good quality, holistic care, promoting self-management for everyone living with and beyond cancer.

Academic collaborations

Our most significant academic collaboration to date has been with Dr Marie Polley at the University of Westminster, who has acted as an external consultant to the Research and Evaluation team since 2010. Dr Polley is an expert in Integrative Oncology research and complex service evaluations. She is also past Chair of the British Society for Integrative Oncology and Co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network.

In addition, Dr Helen Seers is currently visiting Research Fellow at UWE, and is developing her academic links with the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences.

“Penny Brohn UK provides a high level of wellbeing support to people affected by cancer and their supporters and has also produced high-quality research into this area.”

Marie PolleySenior Lecturer and Researcher, University of Westminster

“I frequently recommend people to Penny Brohn UK, as I can be sure that the services provided are evidence based, and very high quality.”

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