Factors which influence how nurses communicate with cancer patients


  • Susie Wilkinson MSc RGN RM DANS RNT RCNT Diploma in Counselling

    1. Macmillan Tutor/Specialist Nurse, Stockport, Tameside and Glossop College of Nursing, Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport SK2 7JE, Greater Manchester, England
    Search for more papers by this author


Communication is one of the most important aspects of cancer nursing Evidence suggests nurses experience communication difficulties and frequently block patients from divulging their worries or concerns This paper focuses on a study which aimed to determine (a) the extent to which nurses facilitate or block patients and awareness of their verbal behaviours, (b) whether there is a relationship between nurses' verbal behaviours and levels of anxiety, social support, work support and attitude to death, and (c) nurses' difficulties in caring for cancer patients The study was conducted in a specialist and non-specialist hospital Fifty-four registered nurses completed three audio-taped histories (one with a new cancer patient, a patient with a recurrence and a patient for pallative care), a self-administered questionnaire and a semi-structured audio-taped interview The data were analysed using SPSSX The findings indicate an overall poor level of facilitative communication, with a patient's recurrence causing most difficulties There is evidence to suggest the way nurses communicate may depend on the environment created by the ward sister, the nurses' religious beliefs and attitude to death rather than specific education in communication skills