The cancer patient’s experience furthers the field of radiotherapy

A survey is being developed to involve cancer patients in the process of improving the care provided during radiotherapy. The patient is involved in evaluating innovations.

– By measuring patient experiences before and after the introduction of new technology and new methods, we gain a valuable complement to technical parameters, says Kristina Finnilä, who is leading the work.

When the patients identify problems in their treatment situation, healthcare institutions, researchers and companies gain material for their development work. At the same time, the patients get to be more actively involved.

What makes the patient lie still?

The survey is being developed under the sub-project “Positioning and immobilization”, which is developing uniform methods for evaluating fixation, i.e., holding the patient in the correct position during treatment.

– Today, we use different methods to get the patient to lie still; such as facial masks that are fastened to the treatment table. It can be very uncomfortable, explains Kristina Finnilä, who as a long experience of meeting patients in the capacity of specialist nurse in oncology.

– The fixation methods used today are not always evaluated based on patient experience. So we don’t know how good information and greater patient participation would affect the level of anxiety, or how still the patient lies during radiotherapy, though we hope to be able to show this in the long term.

Could the patients keep themselves in position?

– We also hope to develop new solutions which both provide a better patient experience and safer radiotherapy. I would like there to be more immobilisation and fixation methods whereby the patient actively participates in their setup and is able to control their positioning during the treatment, says Kristina Finnilä.

Future benefits of the patient survey
  • comparisons between different regions
  • a basis for companies to test their products
  • comparisons between different products
  • development of new solutions

The patient survey has been piloted and is now being validated by around 1,000 patients at the university hospitals in Umeå, Uppsala, Stockholm, Örebro and Skåne, as well as the county hospital in Sundsvall, in order to produce a national standard. The survey form is estimated to be completed by autumn 2014.

Read more about the project Positioning and immobilization