OBJECTIVES: Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy of mesothelial surfaces, most commonly those of the pleura. The aim of this study was to understand, using a national questionnaire, the gendered care experiences of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Patients were asked about their experience of the diagnostic process, about information clarity, health care professionals’ knowledge, general practitioner support and overall satisfaction with care received.
SETTING: Recruitment of patients was carried out in three UK countries (England, Wales and Scotland) via mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists.
PARTICIPANTS: In total, 503 patients completed the questionnaire. 460 had MPM, the remainder had other types of mesothelioma. In accord with the study protocol, only the MPM patients were included in this study. Primary and secondary measures were: (1) time from symptom to diagnosis, (2) satisfaction with the diagnosis and treatment, and (3) quality of life and well-being.
RESULTS: There were gender differences in time from symptom to diagnosis. The time from symptom to diagnosis was significantly longer for women than men (median=152 days vs men=92 days, p=0.01). Lack of a verified source of exposure to asbestos was a hindrance to private treatment access for women (95% of those that access private treatment are men). Patients were five times more likely to be satisfied if they thought that the doctors knew enough about their condition (OR=4.4, p=0.001) and nearly three times more likely to be satisfied if information was presented in a sensitive way (OR=2.8,p=0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: This study has several implications for clinical practice. Our findings suggest that the diagnostic time in women might be reduced by reviewing diagnostic processes including occupational history taking, and by revising the occupational risk of mesothelioma categorisation.
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