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User involvement in UK cancer services: bridging the policy gap


Simon Evans, Research Fellow, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of the West of England, Bristol, BS16 1DD, UK (e-mail:


Recent UK government initiatives aim to increase user involvement in the National Health Service (NHS) in two ways: by encouraging service users to take an active role in making decisions about their own care; and by establishing opportunities for wider public participation in service development. The purpose of this study was to examine how UK cancer service users understand and relate to the concept of user involvement. The data were collected through in-depth interviews, which were analysed for content according to the principles of grounded theory. The results highlight the role of information and communication in effective user involvement. Perhaps more importantly, this study suggests that the concept of user involvement is unclear to many cancer service users. This paper argues the need for increased awareness and understanding of what user involvement is and how it can work.