What do oncologists want? Suggestions from oncologists on how their institutions can support them in dealing with patient loss Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of the study was to explore what institutional support(s) oncologists want to help them cope with patient loss. The grounded theory method was used. Twenty oncologists were recruited and interviewed between November 2010 and July 2011 from three adult oncology centers in Ontario. Data collection and analysis took place concurrently. Analysis involved line-by-line coding, and was inductive, with codes and categories emerging from participants' narratives. Oncologists suggested institutional supports that fit under four categories that included: (1) training, information and education including fellowship training, grand rounds and the availability of fact sheets; (2) acknowledgment and validation of grief including normalizing grief, having forums to share experiences, supportive mentorship and group debriefing sessions; (3) institutional psychosocial support including access to professional help and the nursing care model; and (4) vacations and sabbaticals. Institutions such as medical schools and hospitals have both the opportunity and the obligation to support oncologists with this difficult aspect of their work. In addition to offering ongoing education and forums to share experiences, medical institutions can also provide supportive mentorship models to junior oncologists on how to cope with patient loss.

publication date

  • June 20, 2012