2016 conference testimonials from our AHP delegates

Sean Ralph
Sean Ralph

“As a therapeutic radiographer and early career researcher attending the BPOS 2016 Annual Conference allowed me to showcase a study that I was undertaking as part of a HEE/NIHR clinical academic research internship in the form of a poster presentation. More importantly, however, the conference enabled me to learn from the research of others in order to improve clinical practice.

I like to think of myself as a psychologically minded radiographer and thanks to an oral presentation on cancer survivorship and liminality I no longer ask radiotherapy patients if they are excited to finish their treatment or if they are going out to celebrate? Instead I now ask patients “how are you feeling now that you are nearing the end of your treatment” and I encourage colleagues and students to do the same.” – Sean Ralph – Therapeutic Radiographer and MClin Res student – The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Munisha Ghattaure
Munisha Ghattaure

“I really enjoyed the BPOS 2016 conference where I presented my work exploring the information and support needs of radical prostate cancer patients. It was great to meet so many professionals from other disciplines. However, there was only one other therapeutic radiographer which was quite surprising as the conference was so relevant to the line of work we do. The conference was based around patient care and it was useful to know about all the different types of projects and work that is being developed around this. I felt the conference was very motivating and inspiring. The food was great and it was lots of fun doing the quiz in the evening too which was good for team building and to break up the day. I would definitely go again and would recommend it to anyone”. – Munisha Ghattaure Specialist Radiographer: St James’s Institute of Oncology Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust 

Interview with Sarah Allen – student bursary winner for 2016 conference

The influence of socioeconomic status on doctor-patient communication in head and neck cancer

While attending the BPOS conference in March I presented a poster entitled ‘Is social inequality related to different patient concerns in routine oral cancer follow-up clinics?’. This study explored the socioeconomic differences in patient-reported quality of life and Patient Concerns Inventory- Head and Neck (PCI-HN) scores of oral cancer patients post-treatment.

The PCI-HN is a 56-item question prompt list which patients complete before a follow-up appointment. It has been tailored specifically to head and neck cancer patients, and allows the patient to indicate any concerns which they wish to discuss in their appointment. These range from physical, treatment-related, social care and psychological concerns. Once completed, the PCI-HN results are given to the consultant to facilitate discussion with the patient and help the patient to bring up any concerns important to them, which they may have otherwise found difficult.

The study found that PCI-HN scores did not significantly differ by socioeconomic status (SES), however quality of life did differ, with patients at the lower end of the socioeconomic gradient reporting significant problems with mood and recreation. This suggests that low SES patients are experiencing worse quality of life, yet are not reporting these issues to a healthcare professional. These results tie in with my PhD project on SES differences in doctor-patient communication with head and neck cancer patients.

Previous studies have found that low SES patients tend to participate less actively in their consultations than high SES patients, as they ask fewer questions, are less likely to volunteer information unasked or express their opinion, and show a lower preference for shared decision-making. Furthermore healthcare professionals tend to approach low SES patients in a more directive manner by giving them less information, and spending less time building rapport, explaining or giving advice to these patients. This has been found with a number of different patient groups, however head and neck cancer patients have been neglected in this field of study. In addition there seems to be a lack of studies exploring the patient-reported beliefs, narratives and experiences which may underlie these SES differences.

My PhD project aims to explore whether and why SES affects doctor-patient communication with head and neck cancer patients, through the use of quantitative and qualitative analyses. The first phase will involve the quantitative coding of audiotaped head and neck oncology review appointments using Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences (VRCoDES- a method of coding doctor-patient communication and emotional expression during medical appointments), the results of which will be compared by patient SES. The second phase will consist of observation and audiotaping of head and neck oncology review appointments, in addition to patient interviews. These results will also be compared by SES. My project will also explore whether the PCI-HN influences doctor-patient communication through the use of VRCoDES to analyse head and neck appointments during a Randomised Controlled Trial of the PCI-HN. I will also explore the impact this has on different socioeconomic groups.

The results of this project will contribute to our understanding of SES differences in doctor-patient communication with head and neck cancer patients, and why these differences might exist, as perceived by the patients. This will impact whether the PCI-HN is used on a wider scale, and the development of any other interventions to reduce socioeconomic differences in doctor-patient communication.

Analysis of tapes for the first phase of my project will commence in May, with recruitment for the second phase starting around July. My PhD is funded by The National Institute of Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast (NIHR CLAHRC NWC).