Dr Susanne Cruickshank

Dr Susanne Cruickshank

Project details

Researcher: Dr Susanne Cruickshank

Location: The University of Stirling

Project title: Developing an intervention to reduce anxiety and improve wellbeing in survivors

Key area: Treatment

For people who’ve had cancer in the past, the fear of the disease returning can have a significant impact on their wellbeing. To combat this, Dr Cruickshank is exploring how specialist breast care nurses can help survivors manage their anxiety.

The challenge

For the majority of breast cancer patients who relapse, recurrence often happens within two to three years of the original diagnosis. For some patients, however, re-emergence of cancer can occur 20 years or more post-diagnosis. The fear of cancer returning is a major concern among survivors and can severely impact on their quality of life, leading to anxiety, loss of sleep and frequent intrusive thoughts. It is important that we develop and successfully deliver new interventions to help survivors manage this fear.

The science behind the project

The fear of breast cancer returning can have a detrimental effect on the lives of breast cancer survivors. Dr Cruickshank aims to assess whether a new intervention, known as the Mini-AFTER (Assessment Family Thoughts Examination Returning of cancer and review), a 30 minute phone call covering significant areas of recurrence fears, can be delivered by specialist breast cancer nurse within their daily practice.

Dr Cruickshank will survey all specialist breast cancer nurses in the UK through Breast Cancer Care’s database to establish their current methods for identifying and tackling fears associated with the cancer recurring in survivors. Additional interviews with 20 specialist nurses will allow a more in-depth analysis of the elements that would enable successful delivery of a fear or recurrence intervention in practice: challenges, opportunities and skills.

What difference will this project make?

The fear of breast cancer returning can have a negative impact on quality of life for survivors. This project will ensure that specialist breast cancer nurses are equipped to identify fear of return in survivors and deliver an effective intervention. Implementing the Mini-AFTER has the potential to reduce this fear and enable survivors to manage their fears and improve their wellbeing.