Does quality of life feedback promote seeking help for undiagnosed cancer?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Authors:
  • Suzanne M. Skevington
  • Hannah Long
  • Nicola Gartland


Diagnosing cancer early is an imperative, as help-seeking delays affect survival. Quality of life (QoL) deteriorates after diagnosis, but decline may start when cancer is suspected at the earliest stage of the pathway to treatment. This study examined whether offering guided feedback about personal QoL to adults with potential cancer symptoms, living in deprived communities, changes QoL and promotes help-seeking in primary care.

Visitors to a CRUK mobile cancer roadshow were recruited in 43 sites. A prospective longitudinal (2 × 2) repeated-measures design was applied. Where they presented a potential cancer symptom, and were ‘signposted’ to a GP, they were allocated to a symptom condition, or a lifestyle condition, if seeking cancer risk advice. Randomisation was to an Intervention group, who received feedback about personal QoL results (WHOQOL-BREF and WHOQOL importance measures), or a Control group who assessed QoL without feedback. Depression was screened.

Of 107 participants, the mean age was 53; 50% were women, 57% were without tertiary education, 66% were unemployed and 45% were currently ill. Over 10 weeks, 54% of all those with symptoms sought help from a medical source and 42% specifically from a GP. Thirty-one completed all three assessments. With symptoms present, psychological, social and environmental QoL were poor, becoming poorer over time. When the symptoms group received feedback, psychological QoL increased, but GP visits were unaffected. However, feedback increased help-seeking from informal social contacts. Lifestyle groups reported consistently good psychological and social QoL.

This early cancer research offers practical and theoretical implications for QoL interventions in deprived communities.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuality of Life Research
Early online date26 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020