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"What's fair to an individual is not always fair to a population": a qualitative study of patients and their health professionals using the Cancer Drugs Fund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Policy
Early online date21 Jun 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 31 May 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 21 Jun 2019


To understand the values attached to cancer treatment at the end of life(EoL) to inform policy decisions around the Cancer Drugs Fund(CDF) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence(NICE) EoL criterion.

Semi-structured interviews with patients and health professionals.
Purposive recruitment was performed iteratively alongside analysis of interview transcripts using constant comparison.

Patients with incurable prostate and colorectal cancer(n=22) who received drugs funded through the CDF and oncologists and palliative care professionals(n=16) treating patients on CDF drugs.

While the majority of patient and oncologist participants expressed gratitude for access to the CDF, some patient participants reported experiencing a sense of guilt, and many oncologists admitted to concern about the justice of a ring-fenced fund solely for anti-cancer drugs. For patient and professional participants, cancer drugs were not necessarily seen as a funding priority over other calls on the NHS purse. Overall, patients and health professionals emphasised prioritising quality over quantity at the end of life, with only a minority describing improved quality of life at the end of life which added value.

While patients and oncologists appreciated the drugs available through the CDF, most expressed concern about its fairness. Competing participant views about the added value of the end of life is challenging for resource allocation.

    Structured keywords

  • Centre for Surgical Research

    Research areas

  • NICE, Cancer Drugs Fund, qualitative methods, Resource Allocation

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