• continuous video recording;
  • clinical research tools;
  • cancer patients;
  • pulsed dose rate (PDR) brachytherapy;
  • communication;
  • treatment sessions;
  • patient behaviour;
  • negligent nursing

Continuous video recording: a new clinical research tool for studying the nursing care of cancer patients

Aim. The aim of this study was to clarify issues around the patient–nurse interaction during pulsed dose rate (PDR) brachytherapy.

Background. Cancer diagnosis, response and survival rates as well as the side-effects of radiation therapy are well described in international literature. However, no scientific data apparently exist on the reactions and behaviour of cancer patients during stressful irradiation treatments nor on nursing performance in these situations. The study involved gynaecological and anal cancer patients. Treatment needles (10–20 cm) were implanted in the tumours of these patients during the PDR brachytherapy. This treatment was administered during a 15–30-minute period each hour, for a duration of 30–60 hours. Patients were partially isolated and immobilized, and typically positioned on the back or side. In preparation for the therapy, patients had to fast and drink sparingly. Observation and nursing care could only be performed during pauses in the treatment.

Method. This paper is based on 142 hours of continuous video recording of patients undergoing PDR brachytherapy. Data were collected on five patients and 17 nurses.

Findings. The study shows that nurses were with patients for approximately 1/4 of the available time. The majority (75%) of any communication with patients centred around physical care. Although patients were in a stressful situation, they did not anticipate receiving any psychological support from nursing staff. Patients showed individual patterns of behaviour and coping.

Conclusions. Continuous video recording, as a research tool can document accurately interaction and behaviour between cancer patients and nursing staff. Video recording discloses examples of both eminent and negligent nursing care and as such can be a useful tool for instruction and for future research. The credibility, validity and limitations of using video recording are discussed.