Experiences of interaction between people with cancer and their healthcare professionals: A systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies

Romain Collet, Mel Major, Maarten van Egmond, Marike van der Leeden, Rhea Maccow, Anne Eskes, Martijn Stuiver

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This study investigates patients’ experiences of interaction with their healthcare professionals (HCPs) during cancer treatment and identifies elements that HCPs can utilize to improve cancer care provision.

PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, and Embase were systematically searched for relevant studies published from January 2010 until February 2022. Qualitative studies investigating adult patients’ perspectives on their interaction with HCPs during cancer treatment were included. Studies conducted during the diagnosis or end-of-life treatment phase were excluded. Duplicate removal, screening, and quality appraisal were independently performed by four reviewers using Covidence.org. We performed a thematic meta-synthesis of qualitative data extracted from studies meeting the quality criteria in three stages: excerpts coding, codes categorization, and theme identification by merging similar categories.

Eighty-eight studies were included for quality appraisal, of which 50 papers met the quality inclusion criteria. Three themes were identified as essential to positively perceived patient-HCP interaction: “Support, respect and agency”, “Quantity, timing, and clarity of information”, and “Confidence, honesty, and expertise”. Overall, patients experienced positive interaction with HCPs when the approach was person-centered and when HCPs possessed strong interpersonal skills. However, patients expressed negative experiences when their preferences regarding communication and the type of personal support needed were ignored.

This meta-synthesis emphasizes the importance for HCPs to recognize all patients’ needs, including communication and personal support preferences, to provide high-quality care. Consequently, healthcare professionals should continuously train their verbal and non-verbal communication, empathy, active listening, and collaboration skills during their undergraduate and continuing education.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102198
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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