Symptom Control Trials in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Qualitative Study

Tom Middlemiss, Mari Lloyd-Williams, Barry Laird, Marie Fallon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Symptom control research in patients with advanced cancer is not common. This may be the result of a belief that this research is unethical, not practical, or that patients are not interested. However, the experiences of cancer patients who have actually taken part in symptom control research near the end of life have never been detailed.

The objective was to explore the experiences of patients with advanced cancer who had taken part in symptom control trials.

A prospective two-center study was undertaken using grounded theory methodology. Theoretical sampling was used to recruit patients from one of two double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials studying novel analgesic agents for cancer-related pain. Participants completed one semistructured interview. Recruitment and interviewing continued until data saturation was achieved.

Twenty-one participants were recruited. Fifteen (71%) were male, with a mean age of 62 years. Key themes identified included reasons for trial participation, participants' interactions with the trial staff, and participants' responses to the effect the trial had on their pain. In general, participants regarded taking part in a clinical trial as a positive experience, and potentially improving overall well-being. Crucially, this was not related to whether there had been an improvement in symptoms.

The findings provide grounds for optimism that patients with advanced cancer may benefit from taking part in symptom control trials, supporting the paradigm that participation in symptom control research should be encouraged in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-649
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
Early online date29 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Symptom Control Trials in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Qualitative Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this