A190: Development of a consumer orientated food-safety education strategy for chemotherapy patients and family-caregivers

Ellen W. Evans1,Adrian C. Peters1,Simon Dawson1,Elizabeth C. Redmond1

1Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Presenting date: Monday 2 November
Presenting time: 13.10-14.00

Background

Patients receiving chemotherapy have an increased risk of foodborne illness due to immunosuppression, indeed the risk of listeriosis is reportedly five-time greater to chemotherapy patients than the general population. Consequently, it is essential for patients/family-caregivers to ensure food safety at home. However, it is suggested that limited food-safety information is available to chemotherapy patients/family-caregivers in the UK and data on food-safety practices during chemotherapy are particularly lacking.

Method

A review of food safety information in the UK, along with a consumer orientated approach involving in-depth interviews, self-complete questionnaires and focus groups, allowed for the design, development and evaluation of a targeted food-safety education strategy.

Results

A review of food-related information available to chemotherapy patients obtained from 42 of 141 NHS chemotherapy providers established that many failed to highlight importance of food-safety to prevent infection, considerable gaps exist and information varied between sources. In-depth interviews (n=15 patients/family-caregivers) determined food-safety was of minimal concern during treatment, food-safety information during chemotherapy was considered to be inconsistent, insufficient, and particularly sought-after. Self-complete questionnaires (n=172 patients/family-caregivers) determined that despite increased awareness of the importance of food-safety, malpractices were reported and perceived risks were underestimated, particularly among patients. During chemotherapy, information on ‘keeping-active’/‘healthy-eating’ were significantly (p<0.05) more likely to be received than on ‘food-safety’. Focus groups (n=23 patients/family-caregivers) enabled design, development and evaluation of food-safety education interventions. To enable a sense of ‘control’ for food-safety, risk-reducing behaviours not only needed to be recommended, but why they are important needed to be addressed.

Conclusion

This research project has informed the design, development and evaluation of targeted food-safety interventions using a data driven audience orientated approach. This, alongside input from food safety experts has resulted in tailored food-safety resources that may help to increase implementation of risk-reducing food-safety behaviours for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, and thus reduce risk of foodborne illness.