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Qualitative Exploration of Healthcare Relationships Following Delayed Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer and Subsequent Participation in Supportive-Expressive Group Therapy

Lauren M. Walker

John W. Robinson

self-help groups, ovarian neoplasms
ONF 2009, 36(6), E310-E316. DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.E310-E316

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the role of supportive-expressive group therapy (SEGT) in facilitating the development and quality of healthcare relationships in patients with ovarian cancer.

Research Approach: Qualitative, grounded theory, and comparative approach.

Setting: Tertiary care cancer center.

Sample: 6 patients with advanced ovarian cancer and 3 healthcare professionals.

Methodologic Approach: Patients participated in semistructured interviews that examined the nature of their healthcare relationships, diagnoses, and SEGT experience. The primary gynecologic oncologist and two nurses responsible for the care of the patients also were interviewed. Analysis of this qualitative study employed a grounded theory technique.

Main Research Variables: Patients' and healthcare professionals' perceptions of healthcare relationships.

Findings: Patients' negative diagnostic experiences were found to influence the quality of relationships with healthcare providers. However, the process appears to benefit from patient participation in SEGT. Patients perceived that SEGT helped facilitate communication between patients and professionals. Patients also indicated that SEGT led them to participate more actively in the treatment process. Professionals viewed patient participation in SEGT as a positive outlet for emotional expression, a source of psychological healing, and a tool that facilitated communication, collaboration, and understanding of medical treatment.

Conclusions: Participation in SEGT can advance communication and collaboration in medical care and provide opportunity and resources for psychological healing.

Interpretation: SEGT provides a vehicle to enhance the quality of life of patients with ovarian cancer by breaking down the common feeling of isolation, addressing women's frustration and resentment regarding delayed diagnosis, and enhancing relationships with healthcare providers to promote collaborative care in this patient population.

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