Expressing concerns in oncology consultations: what withholds and stimulates patients?

This project aims to gain insight into cancer patients’ concern expression in consultations. Two research questions are central in the project: 1) What withholds cancer patients from expressing their concerns during consultations? and 2) How can communication be used to support cancer patients to express their concerns? Little is known about the behavioral determinants that underlie cancer patients’ intention to express concerns. Therefore, to answer the first research question, we examine which determinants explain patients’ intention to express concerns and which barriers inhibit patients’ concern expression.

To answer the second research question, we investigate how these determinants can be targeted in video- messages to effect a change in patients’ concern expression. Furthermore, focus groups with cancer patients and cancer survivors are conducted to explore more in-depth what types of concerns patients experience during their disease trajectory, what underlying mechanisms can play a role in (not) expressing concerns and what kind of support patient prefer to deal with their concerns (e.g., online tools to prepare consultations or to connect with other patients and face-to-face meetings with providers to discuss concerns). The findings can be used to develop (online) tools that aim to support patients in expressing their concerns.

Research team: PhD student: Kim Brandes
Prof. Edith Smit and Prof. Julia van Weert (promoters)
Dr. Annemiek Linn (copromotor)
Status: Ongoing since 1 September 2013
Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO Graduate Grant)