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Insights into the impact of clinical encounters gained from personal accounts of living with advanced cancer.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Joanne Reeve
  • Mari Lloyd-Williams
  • Sheila Payne
  • Christopher Dowrick
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Primary Health Care Research and Development
Issue number4
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)357-367
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Aim To describe the impact of interactions with health care professionals revealed by people’s accounts of living and dying with cancer; to explore reasons for the observed effects; and thus, to consider the implications for practice. Background The importance of practitioner–patient interactions is enshrined within professional values. However, our understanding of how and why the consultation impacts on outcomes remains underdeveloped. Stories recounted by people living and dying with cancer offer important insights into illness experience, including the impact of contact with health services, framed within the context of the wider social setting in which people live their lives. From our recent study of distress in primary palliative care patients, we describe how people’s accounts revealed both therapeutic and noxious effects of such encounters, and discuss reasons for the observed effects. Method A qualitative study with a purposive sample of 19 primary palliative care patients: (8 men, 11 at high risk of depression). In-depth interviews were analysed using the iterative thematic analysis described by Lieblich. Findings Living with cancer can be an exhausting process. Maintaining continuity of everyday life was the norm, and dependent on a dynamic process of balancing threats and supports to people’s emotional well-being. Interactions with health care professionals were therapeutic when they provided emotional, or narrative, support. Threats arose when the patient’s perception of the professional’s account of their illness experience was at odds with the person’s own sense of their core self and what was important to them. Our findings highlight the need for a framework in which clinicians may legitimately utilize different illness models to deliver a personalized, patient-centred assessment of need and care. The work provides testable hypotheses supporting development of understanding of therapeutic impact of the consultation.

Bibliographic note

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=PHC The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Primary Health Care Research & Development, 10 (4), pp 357-367 2009, © 2009 Cambridge University Press.