Oncologists’ and oncology nurses’ attitudes and practices towards family involvement in cancer consultations

R. Laidsaar-Powell*, P. Butow, S. Bu, A. Fisher, I. Juraskova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Family members (FMs) regularly attend cancer consultations with patients, may assume an array of roles (e.g. emotional, informational) and their involvement may result in benefits and/or challenges. Little is currently known about how oncology health professionals (HPs) view FMs who accompany a patient in consultations. This study aimed to explore the attitudes and practices of Australian oncologists and oncology nurses regarding family involvement in consultations. Eleven oncologists and 10 nurses from a range of subspecialties and tumour streams participated in semi‐structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed and qualitatively analysed using framework analysis methods. Five relevant themes were identified: (1) the varied and dynamic nature of family roles during consultations; (2) positivity towards FMs; (3) the benefits of family involvement to the FM themselves; (4) current HP practices to facilitate positive family involvement; and (5) the challenges of family involvement in consultations and HP practices to manage them. Overall, participants held mostly positive attitudes towards family involvement. Although they identified a number of challenges which can arise when family are involved, many noted these situations are the exception, that there are strategies which can help to overcome the challenges, and that the benefits of family involvement typically outweigh the costs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12470
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • communication
  • family carers
  • health professionals
  • qualitative


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