Patient-Provider Relationship in Cancer Care: Insights from a Study in two North-Eastern States of India

By Dindi Kuru and Anil Kumar K

In the journey to cancer treatment, the doctor-patient relationship is pivotal in strengthening oncology service delivery which is sparingly understood in the study area. In this paper we examinethe doctor-patient relationship in cancer care in two states of northeast India. A descriptive multiple-embedded case study approach was followed using mixed methods for breast, cervix, lung, oral and stomach cancers- an integrated framework was a guided referee. In phase one, 388 participants were selected by stratified random sampling and 21 semi-structured interviews in phase two, comprising of patients and oncologists. Cancer patients described their feeling of non-involvement in their treatment due to the condescending behaviour of a few nursing staff with the lack of doctor’s visits in day-care chemotherapy centres were described as discouraging. While, the request for non-disclosure of diagnosis to the patient by their relatives and the preference for alternative cancer treatment was a challenge for doctors. Incorporating locally relevant activities such as lotteries has supported patient outreach for cancer care. Relational communication between doctor-patient while acknowledging the psychosocial aspects of cancer patients and incorporating them as a mandatory part of the medical and nursing curriculum will enhance the cancer treatment journey.

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