Self-management support and eHealth for patients and informal caregivers confronted with advanced cancer: An online focus group study among nurses

Vina N. Slev*, H. Roeline W. Pasman, Corien M. Eeltink, Cornelia F. Van Uden-Kraan, Irma M. Verdonck-De Leeuw, Anneke L. Francke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Self-management by patients and informal caregivers confronted with advanced cancer is not self-evident. Therefore they might need self-management support from nurses. This article reports on nurses' perspectives on self-management support for people confronted with advanced cancer, and nurses' experiences with eHealth in this context. Methods: Six online focus groups were organized, with a total of 45 Dutch nurses with different educational levels and working in different care settings. Nurses were asked how they support patients and informal caregivers facing advanced cancer in managing physical and psychosocial problems in their daily life. Questions were also asked regarding the nurses' experiences with eHealth. Transcripts of the online focus group discussions were analyzed qualitatively following the principles of thematic analysis. The main themes derived from the analyses were ordered according to the elements in the 5 A's Behavior Change Model. Results: Within the scope of self-management support, nurses reported that they discuss the background, personal situation, wishes, and needs of advanced cancer patients ('Assess' in the 5 A's model), and they provide information about cancer and specifically the advanced type ('Advise'). However, nurses hardly give any advice on how patients can manage physical and psychological problems themselves and/or pay any attention to collaborative goal-setting ('Agree'). Neither do they explain how follow-up can be arranged ('Arrange'). In addition, they do not appear to pay much attention to self-management support for informal caregivers. Nurses' attitudes towards eHealth within the scope of self-management support are positive. They see many advantages, such as allowing advanced cancer patients to stay in charge of their own care and lives. However, nurses also explicitly stressed that eHealth can never be a substitute for personal contact between nurses and patients. Conclusions: Nurses value self-management support and eHealth for advanced cancer patients and their informal caregivers. However, they seem to disregard important elements in the support of self-management, such as providing practical advice, collaborative goal-setting, and arrangement of follow-up. We recommend further promoting and clarifying the essence and importance of self-management support, including self-management support for informal caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2017


  • Advanced cancer
  • eHealth
  • Nurses
  • Self-management support


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