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Enhancing Cancer Awareness & Survivorship Programmes (ECASP)


One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Just under half of these cancers are preventable. Detecting cancer early can effectively reduce the mortality associated with cancer. Two out of three persons diagnosed with cancer survive for five years or longer after diagnosis.

The goal of educators and researchers at the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork is to advance our understanding of and the experiences of cancer awareness and cancer survivorship and thereby, improve health care providers' practice and ultimately individuals' experience of cancer survivorship. The two major research foci of the group are 1) promotion of cancer awareness and 2) support of individuals on the cancer survivorship journey.

The ECASP group through the conduction of over fifteen studies have highlighted the life altering symptoms experienced by individuals undergoing cancer treatment and have developed two targeted interventions: 1) Educational Intervention focused on Sexuality in Women with Gynaecological Cancer and 2) Virtual Reality intervention for Testicular Cancer awareness. ECASP members have worked with the Irish Cancer Society to better understand the impact of health literacy on men’s access to cancer prevention information. ECASP members are currently working with the Irish National Cancer Control Programme to scope and map National Cancer Survivorship Services.

Nine doctorate students associated with ECASP have graduated thus building research capacity. An MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing (Oncology) was launched in 2015 which facilities the education of nurses in the specialist area of oncology.

Aims & Objectives

The two major research foci within the ECASP are:

  1. Cancer awareness within the broader spectrum of health promotion
  2. Support of patients and significant others on the cancer survivorship journey, with a particular focus on understanding the needs of individuals on the cancer journey and the development and testing of targeted interventions for individuals with cancer and their family/loved ones.


Brochure outlining activities of the ECASP Research Group;

ECASP brochure    

Sample of Projects Demonstrating E.CASP Collaborations

Men’s Cancer Prevention and Health Literacy (The MeCHanic Study funded by the Irish Cancer Society)

Cancer incidence and mortality is higher among men than women in Ireland. Gender-specific cancer prevention programmes by the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) have sought to address this. While successful, these programmes more often reach the worried well than those in lower socioeconomic groups and/or with lower Health Literacy (HL). The objective was to identify the facilitators and barriers which impact on men with low HL, in seeking, understanding and acting upon ICS cancer prevention information. Researchers undertook a sequential, mixed methods explanatory study. Men, aged ≥40 years, from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, participated in focus groups or individual interviews, through two organisations; Men’s Health Forum in Ireland, Men’s Groups of Ireland and community groups. Researchers assessed comprehension of spoken, visual and written ICS cancer prevention campaigns using adapted versions of the Cancer Message Literacy Test-Listening’ and ‘Test-Reading’ using survey methodology. Researchers found that men with low health literacy were more likely to be passive information seekers that those with high health literacy.  Men identified many complex barriers and facilitators to cancer prevention and risk reduction information seeking. 

Scoping and Mapping of the Cancer Survivorship Services in the Irish Context.

A study conducted on behalf of the National Control Programme (NCCP): Mixed methods study with the aim of 1) describing the current cancer survivorship services in Ireland and 2) ascertaining the views of healthcare professionals in relation to how the survivorship services could be developed into the future. The results of the research are being used to support the planning for survivorship services nationally.

Project with Marie Keating Foundation: ‘Your Health Your Choice’:

Dr. Serena Fitzgerald, Ms. Stephanie Lawrence, and Dr. Mohamad Saab received the Marie Keating Foundation Health Promotion Bursary to promote cancer awareness in secondary schools as part of the SPHE (Social Personal and Health Education) curriculum. The focus of the programme is on cancer prevention through healthy lifestyle while using the campaign ‘Your Health Your Choice’ developed by the foundation. A 3-hour train the trainer workshop took place on January 12th 2017 in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and was facilitated by staff from the Mary Keating Foundation namely, Ms. Liz Yeates, Chief Executive Officer; Ms. Helen Forristal, Director of Nursing Services; and Ms. Maeve Fitzgerald, Community Information Nurse. Professor Eileen Savage, Head of the UCC School of Nursing and Midwifery welcomed the trainers and highlighted the importance of the bursary in meeting the school’s strategic plan in terms of community outreach and end-user engagement.

Quality Evaluation & Clinical Review of The Irish Cancer Society’s Night Nursing Service:

The Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing Service (ICSNNS) facilitates end of life home-care.  The aim of this study was to conduct an evaluation of the ICSNNS which focused on systems structure, clinical governance, nursing processes, training & support, and the impact of the service.   A mixed methods approach was used. Data was collected concurrently using three different approaches: focus group interviews (n=67 participants); an online survey (n=198 night nurses) and a postal survey of 159 family members.   Researchers found that the ICSNNS is a valuable feature of palliative care services nationally which needs to be protected into the future.   Night nurses are lone workers; therefore, recommendations to strengthen the clinical governance and sustainability of the ICSNNS were made subsequent to the evaluation. Further integration of the ICSNNS into the wider palliative care services would address some of the risks identified by the research.


  • Supportive care needs in survivorship and evidence based practice

Prof Josephine Hegarty, email: J.

  • Breast cancer awareness and help seeking behaviour in relation to breast cancer

Dr Mairin O' Mahony, email:

  • Symptom management by patients with colorectal cancer

Dr Margaret Landers, email:

  • Supportive care strategies in relation to breast cancer, adherence to therapies

Dr Elaine Lehane, email:

  • The self-management of chemotherapy induced fatigue

Dr Patricia O' Regan, email:

  • The head and neck cancer trajectory

Dr Brendan Noonan, email:

  • The human papillomavirus: attitudes and personal practices for cancer prevention in males

Dr Serena Fitzgerald, email:

  • Enhancing men's awareness of testicular disorders using a virtual reality intervention: The E-MAT study

Dr Mohamad M. Saab, email:

  • The Influence of Attachment Style on Health and Disease Outcomes for Women with Breast Cancer and Their Identified Significant Other

Dr Ashling Murphy, email:

  • Promoting breast cancer and screening awareness among women with intellectual disabilities

Susan Walsh email:



Professor Mark Corrigan (Cork Breast Research Centre, Cork University Hospital (CUH),

Margaret Allen (CUH), Marie Casey (Bon Secours Hospital),

National Cancer Control Programme,

Irish Cancer Society,

National Cancer Registry Ireland,

Cancer Research @ UCC,  

researchers from UK and US. 

Dr Bridie McCarthy whose expertise relates to family member experiences of the cancer journey.

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Scoil an Altranais agus an Chnáimhseachais

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex College Road Cork, Ireland , T12 AK54