Exploring Oncology Nurse Perceptions of the Relationship Between their Self-Efficacy and the Quality of Communication with their Patients

  • Patrick John Cronin

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


Objectives. To explore oncology nurses’ perceptions of their approach to communication with patients, their self-efficacy for different types of communication and meeting the various associated support needs of their patients, the consequences they associate with their communication approach, and the relationships therein.

Methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight oncology nurses. QOL measures were appraised by nurses during the interviews in terms of potential utility to prompt communication during consultations. A qualitative thematic content analysis was used to identify patterns and themes that emerged from the data.

Results. The nurses described the importance of self-efficacy when communicating with patients about their support needs, including the roles that mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, persuasion, previous nursing experience, continued learning and reflection have on this. Quality of communication and self-efficacy are also impacted by the nurses’ perceived competence of their communication skills and their ability to build a relationship with and appropriately obtain useful information from their patient/client. The nurses also discussed the importance and use of coping resources when facilitating feelings of perceived competence and self-efficacy. Challenging conversations and the individual differences of their patients/clients support needs provided barriers to these feelings. QOL measures were considered useful for identifying issues and allowing responses to be measurable. However, their structure was also an impediment to nurses’ conversational flow, leading to suggestions that they be used as an aid or conversational prompt rather than a questionnaire.

Conclusion. Based on these results the author has concluded that an oncology nurse’s self-efficacy and perceived competence are important factors in terms of communication which successfully meets the needs of the patient/client. Support-line nurses and face-to-face nurses can and should learn from each other to influence their best practices in supportive communication; findings from this study can contribute to this professional practice development. A number of the current findings confirm the results of previous studies, whilst others offer opportunities for future research to substantiate and test them through either quantitative or qualitative means
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorSimon Payne (Supervisor) & Joanne Wallace (Supervisor)

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