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Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2008 Apr;12(2):97-102. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2007.10.002. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

The impact of cancer and chemotherapy: perceptual similarities and differences between cancer patients, nurses and physicians.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Health, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90.153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands.



An essential condition to provide optimal care to cancer patients is a thorough understanding of the worries and needs of these patients.


To assess and compare perceptions about the impact of cancer and chemotherapy of health-care providers and patients.


Breast cancer survivors (N=80), oncology nurses (N=41) and physicians (N=49) with oncology experience completed a psychophysical scaling method with items tapping both the physical and psychosocial effects of cancer and chemotherapy.


The following five issues ranked highest among patients: fear of metastases, fatigue, consciousness of one's own vulnerability, hair loss and nausea. Whereas there was a strong correspondence between the ratings of nurses and physicians, both groups grossly overestimated and underestimated various issues. For example, the effects on relationships with partners and children were greatly overestimated by nurses, while physicians underestimated hair loss the most.


There was a considerable discrepancy on various issues between perceptions of patients and medical professionals.


The observed lack of correspondence between patients and health-care providers may result in inappropriate provision of attention and health care. Methods have to be developed to assess easily the main needs and worries of individual patients, which is an essential condition to be able to provide optimal care.

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