Patty Doran


The impact of social support on cancer treatment for older people in the UK.

PhD summary

Older cancer patients are undertreated compared to younger cancer patients. For a disease such as cancer where the majority of patients are older, and in a society where people are living longer and the proportion of older people is growing, age inequality in cancer care is a concern. The relationship between social support and cancer treatment outcomes is relatively under-researched (compared to other areas of cancer research); the objective of this research is to investigate if and how social support impacts on the experiences and outcomes of older cancer patients, specifically in relation to cancer treatment.

A mixed-methods approach will be used to address the primary research question: What is the impact of social support on the experiences of older people with cancer in England? Following a exploratory sequential process, and through partnership working with Macmillan Cancer Support, firstly qualitative research will be carried out to explore the shared decision-making process. Analysis of cancer stories will inform the quantitative stage of the research during which secondary analysis of data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing will be carried out. The final stage of the research will involve integration of the findings and a mixed methods discussion. Key concepts discussed will be: older people, social support, cancer, treatment decisions, quality of life, and advocacy.


After graduating from the University of Otago, New Zealand, with a degree in Maori Studies and a graduate diploma in Community and Family Studies, I moved to Australia and worked for four years for the Australian Government. My work focussed on providing advice and guidance to the long-term unemployed.  Prior to starting my PhD research I worked for Manchester City Council for eight years as a community-based project manager.  Initially I set up a service providing employment support to long-term unemployed through community libraries, and more recently I managed a Macmillan information and support service for people affected by cancer.  I completed a MSc in Social Change at the University of Manchester in 2013.


September 2013 – September 2017


Research Impact Scholarship, The University of Manchester


  • Nick Shryane
  • Sorrel Burden

Contact details

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