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Cancer patients’ family members’ experiences of the information and support provided by healthcare professionals

Lavallée, Jacqueline and Grogan, Sarah and Carol, Austin (2018) Cancer patients’ family members’ experiences of the information and support provided by healthcare professionals. Health Education Journal. ISSN 1748-8176

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Abstract

Objective: This qualitative study aimed to understand the experiences, information and support needs of family members of cancer patients, and their satisfaction with the services provided to them as a family member. Design: An inductive qualitative and critical realist approach to data collection and analysis was taken. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to identify family members of cancer patients. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 participants over email, enabling us to explore sensitive topics at a pace appropriate for each participant and gain rich sources of information. We analysed the data using an inductive thematic analysis. Results: Three superordinate themes were identified: information acquisition; seeking support; and family members’ experiences of cancer. Needs were high, and a complex relationship between information and support was apparent. Many participants felt dissatisfied with the support and information received as it was sometimes inconsistent, incorrect or vague; and some reported deterioration in their own health as a consequence. Online communities were reported as being very informative and supportive as the participants felt they could relate to the first-hand experience of the other members. Conclusion: Improving healthcare professionals’ awareness of the type of information and support the family members need is vital for both family members and patients. There is a need for the development of educational and psychological interventions to assist family members in coping when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, is undergoing or recovering from treatment or is receiving palliative care.

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