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Workforce characteristics and interventions associated with high-quality care and support to older people with cancer: A systematic review

Bridges, J., Lucas, G., Wiseman, T. & Griffiths, P. (2017). Workforce characteristics and interventions associated with high-quality care and support to older people with cancer: A systematic review. BMJ Open, 7(7), article number e016127. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016127


Objectives: To provide an overview of the evidence base on the effectiveness of workforce interventions for improving the outcomes for older people with cancer, as well as analysing key features of the workforce associated with those improvements.

Design: Systematic review.

Methods: Relevant databases were searched for primary research, published in English, reporting on older people and cancer and the outcomes of interventions to improve workforce knowledge, attitudes or skills; involving a change in workforce composition and/or skill mix; and/or requiring significant workforce reconfiguration or new roles. Studies were also sought on associations between the composition an d characteristics of the cancer care workforce and older people's outcomes. A narrative synthesis was conducted and supported by tabulation of key study data.

Results: Studies (n=24) included 4555 patients aged 60+ from targeted cancer screening to end of life care. Interventions were diverse and two-Thirds of the studies were assessed as low quality. Only two studies directly targeted workforce knowledge and skills and only two studies addressed the nature of workforce features related to improved outcomes. Interventions focused on discrete groups of older people with specific needs offering guidance or psychological support were more effective than those broadly targeting survival outcomes. Advanced Practice Nursing roles, voluntary support roles and the involvement of geriatric teams provided some evidence of effectiveness.

Conclusions: An array of workforce interventions focus on improving outcomes for older people with cancer but these are diverse and thinly spread across the cancer journey. Higher quality and larger scale research that focuses on workforce features is now needed to guide developments in this field, and review findings indicate that interventions targeted at specific subgroups of older people with complex needs, and that involve input from advanced practice nurses, geriatric teams and trained volunteers appear most promising.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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