What’s the project?

The Surgery Support Packs (previously known as Post-Surgery Packs) aim to support all men undergoing surgery to treat prostate cancer, wherever they are based in the UK, by ensuring they are provided with complete, quality information, at the right time, to help them recover as quickly and as easily as possible.

The contents are designed to inform men about what the treatment will involve, help them understand what side effects to expect and how best to cope with them, as well as highlight what products and support services are available.

How does it work?

Prostate Cancer UK developed the support pack following consultation with health professionals and men who had previously undergone prostate cancer surgery. The pilot study, which took place early 2013, recruited secondary care health professionals to offer the packs to their patients who had opted for prostate cancer surgery. They could use it to complement conversations about the surgery and likely side effects. The packs contained:

  • Information about prostate cancer surgery.
  • Information on what to expect before, during and after surgery, including side-effects and the recovery process after the catheter is removed and until the first PSA test after treatment.
  • Common products to help men cope with the side effects of surgery, including two packs of male-specific incontinence pads of varying absorbency levels, sanitising hand gel and sanitary bags for pad disposal.
  • Information about pelvic floor muscle exercises to promote rehabilitation.

How was it evaluated?

This was a pilot study. After conducting an online survey with men to explore support needs and consultation with health professionals to help shape the pack’s contents and design, we tested how useful this pack was in a pilot group of 12 hospital sites throughout England and Scotland, who between them distributed 101 packs to patients throughout the three months of the pilot study.

We included a questionnaire in the pack to find out what men thought about it, to which 65 men responded. We also carried out qualitative interviews with five men and three healthcare professionals who used the packs to get firsthand accounts of their experience.

What did we learn?

The men who used the pack seem to be highly satisfied with all aspects, including when the pack was given to them, how it was explained by health professionals, and the information and products which were provided, improving their post-surgery care experience. We also received positive feedback about the information inside the pack and the incontinence pads provided. It also received positive feedback from healthcare professionals, who found that the pack provided a useful tool for better care provision.

However, we made minor adjustments to the products and amount of information provided, so that as many men as possible could benefit from this service. We also found that the success of this initiative also depends on being able to work closely with hospitals to ensure that the pack is properly distributed to patients who need it, and at the right point in their treatment journey.

How can I find out more?

Read the report (PDF)