For some individuals, the opportunity to raise and discuss issues at the time of the consultation might be enough. For others, provision of verbal advice, written information and contact details for a service or support group may resolve their concerns.
When providing treatment information and supporting decision making with people with cancer, the following issues should be considered:4
- Individuals will vary in their needs for information and their needs may change as treatment proceeds, requiring individualised responses by clinicians
- Individual preferences for communication styles vary, and clinicians need to tailor the format of information provision
- Information recall can be increased by simplifying the language, dividing the information into key issues, and repeating key messages
- Time information provision appropriately
- Individual preferences for the amount, detail and content of information varies and should be tailored to the individual and their circumstances and need
- Provision of a question prompt sheet may promote questions, reduce anxiety, improve recall and shorten the consultation
- Provision of reputable written, audio-visual, and / or online resources can support individual understanding and reinforce information provided.
Consider some of the general principles relevant to education / information sessions which have been identified in the literature.4, 39 Use this list as a checklist to appraise your interactions.
- Introduce yourself to the person and their family, and ensure a comfortable environment, minimise interruptions.
- Assess the anxiety levels of the person and their family, normalise feelings of anxiety. If the person has a history of anxiety disorders such as needle phobia, refer the person to a psychologist for extra support.
- Provide an overview of the session, the structure, timeframe and ensure you allow time for questions.
- Assess understanding and correct any misconceptions.
- Assess level of information required.
- Teach relevant concepts e.g. introduce and discuss the treatment.
- Introduce concept of self-care.
- Review who to contact and role play how and when to make contact.
- Provide information in multimedia format, use diagrams or pictures where possible.
- Encourage the presence of another person.
- Ask the person to repeat back to you their understanding of the information you have provided.
- Repeat the important information in a follow up session / phone call. Send a summary letter as a follow up to the information.
Jane requires information about the treatment she is going to start for ovarian cancer. Identify strategies you would use to ensure an effective education session.