Logog of We Hear You


RIA: We Hear You


Research Initiation Awards are small awards open only to people or organisations from outside the university. Our aim is to support individual people or community organisations to begin to build the relationships or help create the conditions that could initiate future engaged research.


The impact of a cancer diagnosis on close relationships

We Hear You (WHY) is a charity based in east Somerset. WHY provides a free professional counselling service for anyone affected by a diagnosis of cancer or other life-threatening condition.

Cancer can have a huge impact on close relationships, with more than 20% of relationships breaking down. It is an issue that comes up frequently in our counselling work. The counselling that WHY provides is available for patients and carers; we know the strain that a cancer diagnosis can bring, changing relationship dynamics and connections. WHY is aware that there is little research into the psychological impact on relationships when there is a cancer diagnosis, and we wanted to understand this in more depth, to help us improve our knowledge and how we support our clients.

WHY used this funding to convene a workshop at our head office with eight service users (current and previous) to start to understand how this change in relationship dynamics has affected their close connections.

Cancer affects men and women fairly equally and for this piece of work WHY was particularly interested  to speak to men, who are currently under-represented in our service.

This project was the first phase in a larger piece of work that WHY wanted to undertake. Engaging with those that have used our service is a vital part of our work and helps us as a charity to shape the service we deliver to best meet the needs of those that we support. The workshop was the beginning of a co-creation process to enhance how WHY provides support to families affected by cancer, and will feed into our broader service development plans, where we have secured funding to train two counsellors in couples therapy skills.

Project update

WHY was awarded one of the Centre’s Transformative Research Awards to carry out further research to understand the transformative impact of cancer on close relationships.

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