Back to top

Study highlights mental health benefits of cancer clinician training to mark international awareness day

Individuals working in cancer care boosted their own emotional wellbeing after attending psychological support training, new research has reported ahead of World Mental Health Day.

A study from the National Institute for Health and care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands has found that cancer professionals who attended a two-day training and monthly supervision programme reported improvement in their psychological support skills.

According to an evaluation of the training, there was also an improvement in mental wellbeing, work engagement and reduced risk of burnout amongst professionals reported eight months after starting the course.

A total of 145 cancer professionals took part in the study, with 101 of the participants attending both training days. The participants were made up of clinical nurse specialists, service leads, allied healthcare professionals and paraprofessionals, such as nursing associates.

The researchers concluded that interactive training, use of deliberate practice principles and continuous learning beyond the training may be important factors in psychological skills training for cancer care staff in order to change practice and improving wellbeing.

Deliberate practice is the same method employed by elite sportspeople, athletes or musicians to improve their practice. These brief techniques and skills are rehearsed and refined in a safe practice environment using feedback from peers or a supervisor.

Drs James Rathbone and Sam Malins are Consultant Clinical Psychologists at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation and co-lead the new East Midlands Cancer Alliance Centre for Psychosocial Health where the training was run.

Sam said: “Through our research and experience, we’ve seen the transformative impact on cancer professionals who engage in a comprehensive training and supervision programme.

“Attending a two-day training programme and participating in monthly supervision not only enhanced psychological support skills but also significantly improved attendees own mental wellbeing.”

He added: “We have worked hard to develop and evaluate training that is practically useful to staff both in their clinical work and in their personal life, so it is fantastic to see that it has an impact in both areas.”

More than 80 per cent of the participants rated the training day as ‘excellent’, the research findings have revealed.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will receive funding from the East Midlands Cancer Alliance to continue and expand access to the training and supervision evaluated.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and the Real-World Evidence Unit and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “We are excited to receive extra funding to expand our research into the profound mental health benefits of psychological support training for our invaluable cancer care staff.

“As we approach World Mental Health Day, it is a poignant reminder of the critical role emotional wellbeing plays in healthcare.”

He concluded: “This funding will empower us to delve deeper into this crucial area, enhancing both patient care and the mental resilience of our dedicated professionals.”

Taking place on October 10, World Mental Health Day is an international campaign for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

To access the study, click here.

Published on: 9 Oct 2023