Health professionals` perceptions of colorectal cancer patients` treatment burden and their supportive work to ameliorate the burden - a qualitative study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background Support is pivotal for patients in managing colorectal cancer treatment, as they might be overwhelmed by the burden of treatment. There is scarce knowledge regarding health professionals’ perceptions of colorectal cancer patients’ burdens and supportive needs. The study aims to describe health professionals’ perspectives on treatment burden among patients receiving curative surgical treatment for colorectal cancer during the hospital stay and how they support patients to ameliorate the burden. Methods This study has a descriptive and explorative qualitative design, using semi-structured interviews with nine health professionals recruited from a gastrointestinal-surgery ward at a university hospital in Norway. Data were analysed by using systematic text condensation. Results Data analysis identified the themes “capturing patients’ burdens of colorectal cancer treatment” and “health professionals’ support to ameliorate the burden”. Patients with colorectal cancer had to face burdens related to a challenging emotional situation, treatment complications and side effects, and an extensive need for information. A trusting patient-carer relationship was therefore perceived as the essence of health professionals’ support. Health professionals focused their support on safeguarding patients, motivating patients to self-manage, and involving family and peers as supporters. Patients’ journey characteristics and illness severity challenged health professionals’ supportive work. Conclusion Support from health professionals includes providing patients emotional support and relevant treatment-related information and motivating patients for early post-surgical mobilisation. Health professionals should be aware of identifying colorectal cancer patients’ information needs according to the specific treatment stages, which may ameliorate the burden of colorectal cancer treatment and enable patients to self-manage.