Facilitating healthcare practitioners to deliver self-management support in adult cancer survivors: a realist review

Kumud Kantilal, Wendy Hardeman, Hattie Whiteside, Eleni Karapanagioutou, Matthew Small, Debi Bhattacharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Supporting cancer survivors in self-management can empower them to take an active role in managing the long-term physical and psychosocial consequences of cancer treatment. Healthcare practitioners are key to supporting patients to self-manage, however, they do not routinely engage in these discussions.

Objective(s): This review aimed to establish what works for whom and in what circumstances in relation to facilitating healthcare practitioners to provide self-management support in people living with long-term consequences of cancer treatment.

Methods: The review follows five steps: define the review's scope, develop initial programme theories, evidence search, selection and appraisal, and data extraction and synthesis. Database searches of Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, PsycINFO, ERIC and AMED databases, to September 2019 were supplemented with practitioner surveys. Insights into the mechanisms that operate in particular contexts to produce successful outcomes were illustrated using realist programme theories, developed using the Theoretical Domains Framework. Data selection was based on relevance and rigour. Data were extracted and synthesised iteratively to illuminate causal links between contexts, mechanisms and outcomes.

Results: Five programme theories were identified from 20 included articles and seven practitioner surveys: practitioners will engage patients in discussions about self-management if they have appropriate (1) knowledge and (2) consultations skills, (3) a clear understanding of their self-management support role and responsibilities, and if (4) organisational strategies and (5) health system configuration enable integration into routine care. The mechanisms facilitating practitioners to support self-management were practitioner confidence, mutual trust and shared responsibility between practitioners and cancer survivors, organisational prioritisation and ease of delivery of self-management support.

Conclusion: The findings articulate the necessary components for embedding self-management support into routine cancer care. Operationalisation of these components into effective self-management support interventions will require reconfiguration of pathways and adaptation for local context, using strategies such as quality improvement and co-design to guide intervention development, implementation and evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3870-3883
Number of pages14
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number11
Early online date25 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Adverse effects
  • Anticancer therapy
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Oncology practice
  • Systematic review

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