Pharmaceutical care of patients with cancer treated on non-cancer wards in the UK: a mixed methods study


The objectives of this study were to identify and describe specialist cancer pharmacist support for the pharmaceutical care of patients with cancer treated on non-cancer wards. The study also explored the experiences and opinions of the pharmacy team concerning the pharmaceutical care of these patients.


A mixed methods approach was used. A survey of the pharmaceutical care provided to patients with cancer treated on non-cancer wards across the UK was carried out. A focus group was conducted at a district general hospital. Main outcome measures included description of services provided by other Trusts from survey responses and themes from pharmacy staff experiences.


Twenty two per cent of respondents answering the question (29/134) confirmed that pharmacy staff on the acute oncology team would review these patients. The most frequently reported descriptions of other cancer pharmacy support were provision of advice on an individual situation basis (83/132: 63%) and lack of resource to provide a service (25/132: 19%). The themes identified in the focus group discussion were: pharmaceutical care of patients, robust systems to support their care and provision of education and training. Participants expressed their dissatisfaction with the current service provision and lack of resources available to them. Specialist pharmacist advice was described as being available sometimes and participants recounted incidents in which they did not know what to do or lacked the knowledge to deal with themselves.


The majority of respondents reported provision of ad hoc support from specialist cancer pharmacists for the pharmaceutical care of patients with cancer when they are treated on non-cancer wards. However, from their experiences generalist pharmacists would prefer to have more education and training to identify patients’ pharmaceutical care needs in addition to ad hoc support.

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