Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 213–219 | Cite as

Patient- and family-centered care: a qualitative exploration of oncologist perspectives

  • Timothy K. Nguyen
  • Glenn S. Bauman
  • Christopher J. Watling
  • Karin Hahn
Original Article



Increasingly, patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) is recognized as a valuable component of healthcare reform with rich opportunities for improvement within oncology. Shifting toward PFCC requires physician buy-in; however, research examining their perspectives on PFCC is lacking. We sought to explore oncologists’ perspectives on PFCC to identify factors that influence their ability to practice PFCC.


We conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 oncologists (8 radiation, 4 medical, 4 surgical, 2 hematologist-oncologists) at a single Canadian academic cancer institution. Interview data were analyzed using thematic analysis and principles drawn from grounded theory. Subsequently, focus groups consisting of the interviewed participants were facilitated to confirm and elaborate on our findings. Constant comparisons were used to identify recurring themes.


Three dominant themes emerged. First, physicians displayed cautious engagement in their approach to PFCC. Collectively, participants understood the general principles of PFCC. However, there was a limited understanding of the value, implications, and motivation for improving PFCC which may create reluctance with physician buy-in. Second, both individual and system barriers to practicing PFCC were identified. A lack of physician acknowledgement and engagement and competing responsibilities emerged as provider-level challenges. System barriers included impaired clinic workflow, physical infrastructure constraints, and delays in access to care. Third, physicians were able to identify existing and potential PFCC behaviors that were feasible within existing system constraints.


Advancing PFCC will require continued physician education regarding the value of PFCC, acknowledgement and preservation of effective patient- and family-centered strategies, and creative solutions to address the system constraints to delivering PFCC.


Patient-centered care Patient- and family-centered care Physician Barriers Strategies 



The authors acknowledge Carol Martin and Kimberly Trudgeon for their hard work in preparing the interview transcripts.

Compliance with ethical standards

Research ethics board approval was obtained at our institution, and all interviewees provided consent to audio recording of the interviews.

Conflict of interest


We will share study data upon request.

Supplementary material

520_2016_3414_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (109 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 108 kb)
520_2016_3414_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (81 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 81 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy K. Nguyen
    • 1
  • Glenn S. Bauman
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Watling
    • 2
  • Karin Hahn
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Radiation Oncology, Department of OncologyWestern University and London Health Sciences CentreLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences and OncologyWestern UniversityLondonCanada
  3. 3.Division of Medical Oncology, Department of OncologyWestern University and London Health Sciences CentreLondonCanada

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