Purpose: Supporting someone through chemotherapy can be emotionally and physically demanding. However, research has yet to establish the type of support carers require or the best way to provide this. This study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a complex intervention for carers that was co-designed by staff and carers of patients starting chemotherapy.
Methods: Forty-seven carers were recruited, randomised between the intervention (n = 24) and control (n = 23) groups. A questionnaire was completed pre- and post-intervention measuring knowledge of chemotherapy and its side effects, experience of care, satisfaction with outpatient services, coping and emotional wellbeing. The intervention process was evaluated by carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in focus groups.
Results: Recruitment to the study was unproblematic and attrition from it was low, suggesting the intervention and study processes were acceptable to patients and carers. Carers in receipt of the ‘Take Care’ intervention reported statistically significantly better understanding of symptoms and side effects and their information needs being more frequently met than carers in the control. Confidence in coping improved between baseline and follow-up for the intervention group and declined for the control although differences were insufficient to achieve statistical significance. There was no significant difference between the two groups’ emotional wellbeing. HCP and carer focus groups confirmed the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention.
Conclusions: The ‘Take Care’ intervention proved acceptable to carers and HCPs and demonstrates considerable promise and utility in practice. Study findings support the conduct of a fully powered RCT to determine the intervention’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.