Barriers to accessing cancer services for adults with physical disabilities in England and Wales: An interview-based study

Dikaios Sakellariou, Sally Anstey, Sarah Gaze, Eleri Girt, Daniel Kelly, Barbara Moore, Sarah Polack, Roger Pratt, Gill Tyrer, Narelle Warren, Wendy Wilkinson, Molly Courtenay

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives The aim of this study was to explore the barriers to accessing cancer services faced by adults with pre-existing physical disabilities. Design Cross-sectional, exploratory qualitative study. Data were collected by semistructured interviews and analysed thematically. Setting Participants were recruited through statutory and third sector organisations in England and Wales between October 2017 and October 2018. Participants 18 people with a diagnosis of cancer and a pre-existing physical disability. Results The findings illustrate that people with physical disabilities in England and Wales face a variety of barriers to accessing cancer services. The overall theme that emerged was that participants experienced a lack of attitudinal and institutional preparation both from healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities. This overall theme is illustrated through three subthemes: lack of acknowledgment of disability, unseeing disability and physical inaccessibility. Conclusions As the population ages and increasing numbers of people live with cancer and disability, it is important to develop knowledge to respond to the needs of this population. The mere existence of services does not guarantee their usability. Services need to be relevant, flexible, and accessible and offered in a respectful manner. It is important that healthcare professionals work towards inclusive healthcare provision, enabling the utilisation of services by all. Necessary steps to be taken include better communication between the various professionals and across the different teams involved in patients' care, raising awareness of how physical disability can affect or interact with cancer-related treatment and creating more accessible physical environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere027555
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • access to healthcare
  • cancer
  • health inequities
  • people with disabilities
  • physical impairment

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