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Emotional talk of patients with breast cancer during review appointments with therapeutic radiographers: effects on fears of cancer recurrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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  • Embargoed (until 1/10/19)


Fears of cancer recurrence (FCR) in patients with breast cancer may develop during radiotherapy. Radiographer communication with their patients may influence early survivorship FCR level. Aim To investigate the management of emotional talk in patients with breast cancer attending their initial review appointments during radiotherapy and predict FCR at 6–8 weeks follow-up. Methods A mixed-methods observational study was conducted. Patients (consecutive sample, n = 60) with breast cancer, attending a major Scottish cancer centre, had their first two review appointments with their therapeutic radiographer (TR) audio-recorded. In addition, FCR was assessed (FCR7) at baseline and at 6–8 weeks following their final radiotherapy visit. Two TRs participated. Audio files were coded by the VR-CoDES system to identify emotional cues and therapeutic radiographer (TR) responses. Linear regression models were tested for fit and to identify factors associated with follow-up FCR, i.e. patient cues, responses by TR. Results Follow-up FCR was predicted negatively (robust estimator, p = .01) by level of patient emotional talk at the second review session. The provision of space by the TR, at the second session, to enable patients to expand their emotional utterances was also associated, but negatively (p = .01), with follow-up FCR. These effects were maintained after inclusion of covariates: age, treatment received and living conditions.
Conclusions Patient’s emotional expression and TR responses at the second review meeting predicted follow-up FCR. The study shows the effect of communication processes on this specific distress component of the patient’s survivorship experience.

Trial registration NCT02599506


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
VolumeFirst online
Early online date1 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Breast cancer patients, Fears of recurrence, Communication, Emotional talk, Survivorship, Distress, Therapeutic radiotherapy, Behavioural coding

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