Cancer centre information and support services and patient needs: participatory action research study

Helen P.A. Driessen*, Jan J.V. Busschbach, Erna J. Elfrink, Carin C.D. van der Rijt, Gabriël M.R.M. Paardekooper, Corine J. den Hollander, Leonieke W. Kranenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

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Clear information and supportive care are necessary for oncology patients and their relatives to manage the disease (trajectory). Centres for information and support aim to address their needs by offering informal and non-medical formal services. This study evaluated whether the centres’ services offered meet the needs of its visitors, and whether there is interest for these among oncology patients treated at affiliated hospitals.


In this participatory action research, interviews were conducted among visitors of two centres (Patient Information Center Oncology (PATIO) and IntermeZZo) and among patients treated at the affiliated hospitals. Visitors were interviewed to share their experiences regarding the centres’ services offered. Patients from the hospitals were interviewed about their interest in such support. Data were collected during three different periods and adjustments were made to the centres’ services between measurements. 


111 (PATIO) and 123 visitors (IntermeZZo) were interviewed, and 189 and 149 patients at the respective hospitals. Reasons to visit PATIO/IntermeZZo were to relax (93.1%), seek professional advice (54.6%) and meet peers (36.3%). Visitors indicated that the visits met their needs (99.1%), citing the accessible support and the expertise in oncology. 20% of patients interviewed at the hospitals expressed interest in visiting PATIO/ IntermeZZo. The majority of patients (89.6%) considered these centres an integral part of their treatment process. These findings were stable over time. 


Patients and their relatives highly value the services of hospital-affiliated centres for information and support. Future research should address how such centres best be integrated in the Dutch healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2024

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