A qualitative exploration of oncology nurses' family assessment practices in Denmark and Australia

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Coyne, Elisabeth
Dieperink, Karin B
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Background: The nurses’ ability to provide supportive care to the patient and the family is influenced by their family assessment skills, which provide them with understanding of the family needs and strengths. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, it is the family who provides the long-term support for the patient, and nurses need to understand the family needs in order to provide holistic care.

Objective: The objective of the present study is to understand the factors that influence nurses’ family assessment practices in adult oncology setting in Denmark and Australia.

Methods: An interpretive qualitative study was conducted guided by the family systems theory. Focus groups were completed with 62 nurses working in adult oncology areas in Denmark and Australia. A thematic analysis and a computer-generated concept mapping were completed to identify themes within the data.

Results: Overall, the nurses valued family as part of the patient care and worked to understand the family concerns. However, the family assessment process was unstructured and did not enable holistic family support. Nurses from both countries discussed that experience and ability to engage with the family influenced the nurse’s role in family assessment.

Conclusion: This study identified that nurses value family as part of patient care, however struggle to assess and support families during oncology care. There is a need for a structured assessment approach and education on family assessment, which could be used across the two countries and possibly internationally.

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Supportive Care in Cancer
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© 2017 Springer Berlin/Heidelberg. This is an electronic version of an article published in Supportive Care in Cancer, 2017, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 559–566. Supportive Care in Cancer is available online at: http://link.springer.com/ with the open URL of your article.
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Biomedical and clinical sciences
Other psychology not elsewhere classified
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