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Caring for cancer patients: relatives’ assessments of received care


Correspondence to: Elina Eriksson Phd, RN Principal Lecturer, Espoo–Vantaa Polytechnic, Vantaa Institute, Karsikkokuja 15, 01360 Vantaa, Finland (e-mail:


This study aims to find out what cancer patients’ relatives regard as important factors of patient care. The concept of ‘patient care’ is defined as consisting of two domains: the content of health care professionals’ action and health care professionals’ way of performing that action. The sample consisted of 168 relatives of cancer patients from oncological wards from all over Finland. The data was collected with a questionnaire. Nonparametric tests were used for statistical analysis. The results showed that relatives regarded both the content of care and the way in which it was provided as important. The most important factors were the professional skill and trustworthiness of staff members and the safety of care. Relatives regarded information about the patient’s prognosis as less necessary than information about the patient’s cancer, its treatment and the side-effects of treatment. Relatives were generally pleased with the standards of care received by patients. Satisfaction with the actions of health care professionals was highest on the dimensions of professionalism, professional skill, trustworthiness, and friendliness. Two-thirds of the relatives said the patient did not have a primary nurse. It was also mentioned that there was little encouragement for the patients to take part in decision-making concerning their care.