Project Funding Details

Cancer symptom appraisal in everyday life: psychological and demographic influences
Alt. Award Code
Funding Organization
Cancer Research UK
Budget Dates
2012-04-01 to 2015-12-31
Principal Investigator
Whitaker, Katriina
University College London
Europe & Central Asia
London, ENG, UK


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Technical Abstract

Background: Failure to recognise symptoms as cancer is a key factor associated with patient delay and may contribute to more advanced disease at presentation. Previous research has investigated symptom appraisal specifically in the context of cancer, which may bias help-seeking reports.Relevance to cancer: By understanding the symptom appraisal process in everyday life, this research aims to improve our understanding of cancer symptom appraisal. This will help identify targets for intervention to reduce appraisal delay and ultimately to save lives.Aims & Objectives: This research aims to understand the psychological and demographic correlates of symptom appraisal without explicit mention of cancer, using a theoretical model (Psycho-Physiological Comparison Theory; PPCT) to guide research. The primary objectives are:i) To investigate symptom reports in the general population and predictors of appraisal delay, including sex, age, SES, number of symptoms, perceived consequences and knowledge. A secondary objective is to investigate the role of individual characteristic variables, such as anxiety, time perspective, self-efficacy and type of information-seeker.ii) To conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with a sub-sample of patients reporting possible cancer symptoms in Study 1 to explore potential explanations for sex and SES differences (e.g. differences in optimism, normalisation).iii) To use a novel methodology to provide further information about the relative importance of symptom attributes (identified from Studies 1 and 2) on cancer attribution.Methods: Mixed methods will be used to achieve the objectives; i) a quantitative population-based survey to assess symptom prevalence and appraisal according to demographic and psychological characteristics ii) a qualitative study for in-depth exploration of explanations for demographic differences and iii) a behavioural economic study using discrete choice experiments to assess the importance of specific symptom attributes for a cancer attribution.How the results of this research will be used: The results of the research will be published in peer-reviewed journals and will be used to inform the development of interventions aimed at reducing appraisal delay. This study is unique because it will provide information on symptom appraisal in everyday life and will explore potential explanations for demographic differences.

Cancer Types

  • Not Site-Specific Cancer

Common Scientific Outline (CSO) Research Areas

  • 6.3 Cancer Control, Survivorship and Outcomes Research Behavior Related to Cancer Control