Engaging patients in a prehabilitation program prior to commencement of cancer treatment is a known challenge. Utilising experience-based co-design (EBCD) methodology, this study aimed to explore the prostate cancer treatment journey from the perspectives of the patient and health professionals and collaboratively develop a prehabilitation program for patients with prostate cancer.
EBCD was utilised for this study. Patients, support persons and health professionals were selectively identified and recruited from two metropolitan health services in Melbourne. Selection criteria included (i) recent clinical/patient experience with prostate cancer treatment and (ii) willingness to share positive experiences and challenges in two 2-hour face-to-face workshops. Findings from these workshops were thematically analysed to identify key themes addressing aims of the study.
Twenty participants including eight patients, one support person and 11 health professionals were recruited. Four key touchpoints were identified. All participants acknowledged positive interactions between patients and health professionals. Patients often described the journey as lonely, stressful and frustrating especially prior to commencement of treatment. A lack of a consistent approach in identifying and preparing patients with prostate cancer for treatment was identified. A structured prehabilitation program was proposed as a solution. Practical ideas to be implemented including timing of commencement, educational content and strategies to boost engagement were formulated.
The findings from the study provided practical guidance for future clinicians when implementing a prehabilitation program. Future study is required to evaluate the effectiveness of such a prehabilitation program in improving patient engagement and preparedness for prostate cancer treatment.