Meeting with the same well-prepared, caring healthcare professionals every time is important to patients’ perception of quality of care in the oncologic outpatient setting. This concept was demonstrated by study results published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing.

Researchers set out to discern and describe how patients receiving treatment for their cancer perceive the quality of oncologic care in the outpatient setting. They enrolled 20 adults with cancer who received treatment in 4 outpatient settings at 4 different hospitals in Sweden. Among the patients, 11 different cancer types were represented.

A semistructed interview guide was used to conduct interviews of the patients between November 2020 and April 2021. Each interview was audio recorded so the transcripts could be analyzed.

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Each patient answered 2 questions:

  • How do you perceive the concept quality of care in the oncological outpatient setting?
  • What is quality of care for you?

Each patient was also asked 3 follow-up questions:

  • What is good care for you?
  • Can you give an example of good quality of care?
  • Can you give an example of less good quality of care?

Three descriptive categories of responses emerged from the data:

  • The patient’s care is designed to meet individual needs.
  • The patient’s dignity is respected.
  • The patient feels safe and secure with the care.

Within each of those 3 categories, concepts emerged. For example, statements regarding the concept of “receiving honest answers” (27 statements) and “being seen as a person” (51 statements) within the category on respecting patient dignity were cited by many patients. In the category on feeling safe and secure, 78 statements from all but 1 interview cited the concept of “meeting competent healthcare staff.”

However, the researchers pointed out that their results varied from previous research in one regard: Participants expressed no need to participate in their care, instead expressing a desire to hand responsibility over to the healthcare staff. They used phrases such as “taking a backseat” and “letting someone else steer.” The researchers interpreted this as the result of patients’ having a sense of feeling safe and secure, or the result of avoidance strategies invoked by the stress of receiving a cancer diagnosis.

These results show that to achieve quality of care in the oncologic outpatient setting, from the patient’s perspective, that care should be designed to meet the individual patient’s needs and respect their dignity, and the patient feels safe and secure with the care.

“In many respects, these results support and add to previous general knowledge on what factors are important for quality of care, adding the oncology outpatient perspective,” the researchers concluded. “Increased knowledge about how patients perceive quality of care in the oncological outpatient setting can be of value for healthcare staff, for patient advocating groups, for policymaking, or when tailoring educational [programs].”

The researchers also called for additional study into the matter of some patients not wanting to participate in their care, as research shows that patient participation is connected to increased quality of care.


Kittang J, Ohlsson-Nevo E, Schroder A. Quality of care in the oncological outpatient setting: individual interviews with people receiving cancer treatment. Eur J Oncol Nurs. Published online May 1, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.ejon.2023.102335