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Medicine, Health  [International Conference]
Seminars & Symposiums

Seminar: Cancer Patients' need in India

2018-9-8 (Sat) 10:00 - 12:30

International Studies Seminar at Osaka University

Date: 8 September 2018 (Saturday)

Venue: Convention Center, Suita Campus, Osaka University (access map: Suita Campus) (campus map: 1st floor)

( in Japanese only)


Session 1:10:00-11:00

Shweta Chawak (Ph.D. Research Scholar, Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Telangana)


What Do Patients Need? A Qualitative Study Exploring Indian Cancer Patients’ Needs And Expectations From Their Oncologists, Family and Social Network, And Other Cancer Patients.


Background: Psycho-oncology research in India reveals that patient autonomy is seldom exercised in the cancer journey, with family caregivers and oncologists assuming patients prefer not be involved in their medical decision-making. This study aimed to understand Indian cancer patients’ needs and expectations from their treating doctor, social network, and other cancer patients.


Method: Twenty-six patients undergoing cancer treatment at a hospital in Mumbai, India participated in a semi-structured interview exploring topics such as their care needs, available and utilized sources of support, and relationship with and expectations of individuals involved in their cancer trajectory. The interviews were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.


Results: Main themes which emerged included: (i) role of the oncologist: supporting medical and treatment-related decisions, displaying their expertise in the area of their specialization, communicating with authority; (ii) role of the immediate family, relatives and friends: providing emotional support, ensuring smooth logistics of care, and being a source of information and; (iii) role of other cancer patients: sharing cancer-related experiences and help creating a sense of belongingness or providing companionship.


Conclusion: Indian cancer patients assigned specific supportive care roles for their treating doctor (informational support), social network (emotional support and instrumental support) and other cancer patients (emotional support and appraisal support), thus showing a capacity for making health decisions (i.e., role allocation). These study findings suggest a need to develop and test interventions focusing on providing Indian cancer patients with appropriate supportive care (e.g., communication skills training for oncologists, establishing support groups).


Keywords: Psycho-oncology, Social Support, Supportive care needs, Medical decision-making


Seminar Paper will be available (for participants only)






Session 2: 11:10 – 12:10

Sravannthi Maya (Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India)


Experiences And Attitudes Towards Disclosure Versus Nondisclosure Of A Poor Prognosis To Advanced Cancer Patients: Indian Physicians’ Perspectives


Background: Non-disclosure of advanced cancer prognosis is commonly practiced in some Asian cultures. Physicians cite reasons for nondisclosure such as cultural factors, not wanting to upset patients, family reasons, and desire to protect oneself from harm. However, no research has explored the experiences of physicians in India about prognosis (non)disclosure.

Method: Twenty-six oncologists (n=10 medical, 12 radiation, 4 surgical) and four palliative care specialists practicing in India were recruited for a semi-structured interview, exploring their experiences and attitudes towards disclosure versus nondisclosure of a poor prognosis to advanced cancer patients. Interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results: Two primary themes and several subthemes emerged: (i) cultural contexts of disclosure versus nondisclosure, comprising understanding patients’ needs (accessible language, knowing the patient, being honest, sometimes not telling is best) and the role of family (family comes first, family’s cancer beliefs, undertanding internal family dynamics, balancing family’s wishes with their own beliefs), and (ii) barriers to communication, comprising socio-cultural beliefs about cancer and death (white coat syndrome, stigma/taboo, empathic support during pain management) and lack of resources (lack of privacy and time).

Conclusion: Revealing prognosis was a delicate balancing act for Indian physicians, i.e., managing patient and family emotions while providing them relevant information and maintaining hope. Additional work is needed to explore Indian patients’ and families’ needs and perceptions of cancer care. Clinical implications include understanding patient-family beliefs, expectations of care, introducing skills in sharing serious news and providing physicians with appropriate resources to aid better patient care in India.


Keywords: Physicians, nondisclosure, prognosis, advanced cancer, India


Seminar Paper is available (for participants only)




Date: 2018-9-8 (Sat) 10:00 - 12:30
Organizer: Sugita Lab
Venue: Convention Center
Registration: Registration by email is required for this seminar.
Contact: Yone Sugita

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