The interplay of cancer patients’ instrumental concerns and emotions

Published on March 29 2017 – Cancer patients experience many concerns such as fear for the possible side-effects of their treatment. Healthcare providers do not always recognize patients’ expressions of these concerns. Together with colleagues from the Department of Communication Science, Kim Brandes shows that patients describe their concerns as an interplay of instrumental concerns and emotions.
Previous research was mostly focused on the types of concerns patients experienced and how these concerns were expressed during consultations. To examine this, patients had to complete lists with topics of possible concerns and consultations were recorded and coded with coding manuals. In the current study, group interviews were conducted in which patients were asked to freely voice their concerns. By doing so the study aimed to gain insight into how patients describe concerns in a different context. The results show that patients describe their concerns on the one hand as instrumental concerns (i.e., concerns related to information such as information overload, insufficient information and inadequate information). On the other hand, patients describe their concerns as emotions such as fear, frustration and sadness. Patients indicated a constant interplay between instrumental concerns and emotions and explained that they cannot be seen separate from one another. An example is that incorrect information will lead to feelings of frustration. The researchers advice that the interplay needs to be taken into account when concerns are measured and coded. This will generate more information about how the interplay occurs in consultations which can support healthcare providers in recognizing patterns of concerns.
Read more? Brandes, K., van der Goot, M.J., Smit, E.G., van Weert, J.C.M., & Linn, A.J. Understanding the interplay of cancer patients’ instrumental concerns and emotions. Patient Education and Counseling. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2017.02.002

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