Exploring Communication Difficulties in Pediatric Hematology: Oncology Nurses

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ASIAN PACIFIC JOURNAL OF CANCER PREVENTION, vol.14, no.9, pp.5477-5482, 2013 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Background: Communication plays an important role for the well being of patients, families and also health care professionals in cancer care. Conversely, ineffective communication may cause depression, increased anxiety, hopelessness and decreased of quality life for patients, families and also nurses. Objective: This study aimed to explore communication difficulties of pediatric hematology/oncology nurses with patients and their families, as well as their suggestions about communication difficulties. Materials and Methods: It was conducted in a pediatric hematology/oncology hospital in Ankara, Turkey. Qualitative data were collected by focus groups, with 21 pediatric hematology/oncology nursing staff from three groups. Content analysis was used for data analysis. Results: Findings were grouped in three main categories. The first category concerned communication difficulties, assessing problems in responding to questions, ineffective communication and conflicts with the patient's families. The second was about the effects of communication difficulties on nurses and the last main category involved suggestions for empowering nurses with communication difficulties, the theme being related to institutional issues. Conclusions: Nurses experience communication difficulties with children and their families during long hospital stays. Communication difficulties particularly increase during crisis periods, like at the time of first diagnosis, relapse, the terminal stage or on days with special meaning such as holidays. The results obtained indicate that pediatric nurses and the child/family need to be supported, especially during crisis periods. Feeling of empowerment in communication will improve the quality of care by reducing the feelings of exhaustion and incompetence in nurses.