Older adults with advanced cancer living alone 

Many people living with advanced cancer are elderly and increasing numbers of older patients live alone. Whilst health status will clearly help to determine where an older adult can live, this study explored the possibility that living arrangements may themselves have consequences for the health experience of older adults towards the end of life. In-depth qualitative interviews with 32 older people (aged over 75 years) twenty of whom lived alone. Participants were recruited from general practices in North West England, if they fulfilled the following criteria:aged 75 years and over; a documented cancer diagnosis cancer; the GP responds ‘no’ to the question: ‘Would you be surprised if this person were to die in the next 12 months’. The baseline face-to-face interviews explore and compare the perceptions and experiences of participants who live alone and those who live with others, to understand why uptake of care services may differ with living arrangements; how living alone influences quality of life and health outcomes and the factors associated with people’s preferences for place of care.
This study is contributing to our understanding of how health and social care services can best support older adults living alone at the end of life and providing data on the research approach to inform future work.



Dimbleby Cancer Care

Start Date: March 2011
Expiry Date: October 2012


Internal Staff

  • Barbara Hanratty

External Collaborators


  • Hanratty B, Lowson E, Holmes L, Addington-Hall J, Arthur A, Grande G, Seymour P, Payne S. (2012). A comparative study of strategies to recruit older patients and carers to end-of-life research in primary care. BMC Health Services Research; doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-342, 12, 342. eScholarID:206610
  • Hanratty B, Addington-Hall J, Arthur A, Cooper L, Grande G, Payne S, Seymour J. (2013). What is different about living alone with cancer in old age: a qualitative study of experiences and preferences for care. BMC Family Practice; doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-22, 14(22), eScholarID:206594
  • Paper submitted for publication: A qualitative study to understand how living alone influences the end-of-life experiences of older adults with cancer

Public Health and Society Research in the Department of Health Sciences