Purpose: The service was piloted in response to requests for assistance with patients experiencing severe anxiety undergoing head and neck radiotherapy. This paper describes the aims of the service, interventions provided and the recorded responses of patients to the support given.
Data: Information about who referred, patient demographics, the interventions provided and patient feedback (n = 112) was extracted from treatment records over a 15-month period.
Findings: All referred patients successfully completed procedures and treatment. About 43 patients voluntarily disclosed past trauma, for example, sexual abuse, assault, childhood trauma, which they judged to have been linked to their claustrophobic responses. Advice and support was given to 40 patients also referred for smoking cessation; an additional three patients requested support when cravings returned.
Conclusion: There is a paucity of information about the extent of the distress triggered by radiotherapy procedures and what interventions could be offered in practice. Further work is required to include an economic assessment and longer term effects on patient compliance with treatment and smoking cessation. Training needs for complementary therapists and radiotherapy staff at this centre were also identified; these are being addressed.