Descriptions of fundamental care needs in cancer care—An exploratory study

Asa Muntlin Athlin, Maria Brovall, Yvonne Wengstrom, Tiffany Conroy, Alison Kitson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To explore the experiences of the fundamentals of care for people with a cancer diagnosis, from diagnosis to after adjuvant treatment. Background: More focus is needed on the experience of people living with cancer, as current cancer care more emphasises on independence and resilience without fully acknowledging that there will be moments in the cancer journey where patients will need “basic nursing care” to manage their symptoms and care pathways. Design: Secondary analysis of qualitative data. Method: Secondary thematic analysis of interview data from 30 people with a diagnosis of breast (n = 10), colorectal (n = 10) or prostate (n = 10) cancer was undertaken. Results: The findings revealed vivid descriptions of the fundamentals of care (i.e., basic needs) and participants described physical, psychosocial and relational aspects of the delivery of care. Both positive (e.g., supportive and kind) and negative (e.g., humiliating) experiences related to the relationship with the healthcare professionals were re-counted and affected the participants’ experiences of the fundamentals of care. Participants’ accounts of their fundamental care needs were provided without them identifying who, within the healthcare system, was responsible for providing these needs. Specific nursing interventions were seldom described. Conclusion: Some people with a cancer diagnosis have to strive for help and support from the nursing staff to manage to regain control over their recovery. Nurses in cancer care need to focus on the patients’ fundamental care needs to optimise their patients’ recovery. Relevance to clinical practice: Cancer patients require support with their fundamental care needs and nurses need to be more aware of this and integrate it into the caring relationship. It is imperative that the complexity of the nurse–patient relationship is acknowledged and that models of care which honour this complexity are used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2322-2332
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • cancer care
  • fundamentals of care
  • nursing care
  • person-centred care
  • qualitative study
  • secondary analysis


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