Nurses’ attitudes and beliefs around exploring the existential concerns of people with cancer
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Nurses’ attitudes and beliefs around exploring the existential concerns of people with cancer

Anna Lagerdahl Macmillan consultant clinical psychologist, cancer services, Great Western Hospital, Swindon, England
Ariane Scalpello MSc student, neuropsychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, England
Martin Brown MSc student, neuropsychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, England
Hannah Shackleton MSc student, neuropsychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To acknowledge the existential concerns of people with cancer and the importance of addressing them

  • To gain evidence on facilitators and barriers to the exploration of existential concerns with patients

  • To read about resources that can support cancer nurses to address their patients’ existential concerns

Background Existential concerns are common among people with cancer, but many of them perceive a lack of support from healthcare professionals in this area.

Aim To enhance the understanding of NHS nurses’ attitudes and beliefs regarding the exploration of existential concerns in people with cancer and to collect information about the facilitators and barriers to providing existential support to patients in nursing practice.

Method A questionnaire developed by the researchers was used to explore the attitudes, beliefs and experiences of 29 nurses working in cancer services across the UK regarding the exploration of existential concerns with patients.

Findings Most participants believed cancer gives rise to existential concerns, but the degree to which they explored these with patients varied. The factors that most influenced participants’ ability to explore existential concerns were their ease around addressing existential concerns; whether they felt that addressing existential concerns was beneficial; and whether they felt an expectation to address existential concerns. Findings also showed a need for training.

Conclusion Holistic needs assessments, comprehensive psychological training and reflective practice are fundamental resources that can support cancer nurses to address the existential concerns of their patients.

Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2022.e1805

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

anna.lagerdahl1@nhs.net

Conflict of interest

None declared

Lagerdahl A, Scalpello A, Brown M et al (2022) Nurses’ attitudes and beliefs around exploring the existential concerns of people with cancer. Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2022.e1805

Published online: 25 May 2022

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