01-2021 to 9-2024
The social aspects of people’s lives, especially social connection, have great impact on their health. However, little is known about the trajectories of social connection towards the end of life and their link with end-of-life outcomes. This is of particular concern for older people with cancer, many of whom have complex and fluctuating needs. End-of-life research has studied fragments of social
connection only, lacking theoretical underpinning and longitudinal data. This project builds on a comprehensive theory of structure, function and quality aspects of social connection to 1) study changes in social connection in the last years of life of older people with cancer and associations with symptoms and healthcare use in the year prior to death; and 2) develop and feasibility-test a novel
longitudinal method, linking survey with routine administrative data, to examine temporal associations between social connection and physical, psychological and existential end-of-life outcomes and healthcare use in older people with cancer in unstable health. The first part uses existing population-based data from 18 European countries. The second part develops the new method with professional and patient stakeholders, followed by a feasibility study with 30 patients, surveyed at baseline, 3- and 6-month follow-ups.
This project will achieve groundbreaking insights into a potential key target for clinical care and health policy to improve well-being of older people with cancer.