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Cancer symptom appraisal in everyday life
Background: Failure to recognise symptoms as cancer is a key factor associated with patient delay and may contribute to more advanced disease at presentation. Previous research has investigated symptom appraisal specifically in the context of cancer, which may bias help-seeking reports. This research aims to improve our understanding of cancer symptom appraisal in everyday life. This will help identify targets for intervention to reduce appraisal delay and ultimately to save lives. Aims & Objectives: This research aims to understand the psychological and demographic correlates of symptom appraisal without explicit mention of cancer, using a theoretical model (Psycho-Physiological Comparison Theory; PPCT) to guide research. The primary objectives are: i) To gather evidence of symptom reporting in the general population ii) To investigate the psychological (e.g. anxiety, fatalism, time perspective) and demographic (e.g. SES, sex) correlates of symptom appraisal iii) To investigate the relative importance of different symptom attributes (e.g. duration, comorbidity) on cancer attribution Methods: Mixed methods will be used to achieve the objectives; i) a quantitative population based survey to assess symptom prevalence and appraisal according to demographic and psychological characteristics, ii) a qualitative study for in-depth exploration of explanations for demographic differences, and iii) an online survey using discrete choice methodology to investigate the key symptom features that influence a cancer attribution. How the results of this research will be used: The results of the research will be used to inform the development of interventions aimed at reducing appraisal delay. This study is unique because it will provide information on symptom appraisal in everyday life and will explore potential explanations for demographic differences.
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