Cancer as Communal: Understanding Communication and Relationships from the Perspectives of Survivors, Family Caregivers, and Health Care Providers

Document Type


Publication Date



Communication & Journalism


With cancer increasing in prevalence and high priorities placed on concurrent oncological and palliative care to help meet the familial, spiritual, and individual needs of stakeholders in cancer, research is needed that assesses the factors that facilitate coping across stakeholders in cancer care. We were interested in synthesizing our understanding of communication and relationships among patients, caregivers, and providers based on the reasoning that illness is relational, but often conceptualized and researched from the individual perspectives of various stakeholders. The current study examined the experiences of relational and communication opportunities and challenges during cancer for current and former family caregivers, cancer survivors, and palliative and oncology health care practitioners. The thematic analysis of 30 semi-structured interviews revealed an overarching theme on the benefits of orienting toward cancer as communal, which was, in turn, facilitated or impeded by four additional themes/sets of behaviors: support, presence, perspective-taking, and reframing hope. Results of a cross-case data matrix analysis reveal that stakeholders in different roles experience qualitative differences in their experience of cancer as communal, isolated, or ambivalent. Implications for education, palliative care, and interventions are discussed. © 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.



Publication Title

Health Communication

This document is currently not available here.