Many people undergoing radiation therapy experience anxiety. This emotional stress can lead to poorer communication, co-operation, and service delivery.
Methods: An online survey, including demographics, anxious patient vignettes, existing radiation therapy tools, and ProQoL5 burnout questionnaire, was distributed to Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Radiation Therapists (RTs).Email, social media, professional body and research networks were used to recruit responders. The University of Sydney granted ethics approval.
Results: A total of 449 responses (Canada 195, Australia 184, and New Zealand 70) were received in 2 months. Participants were predominantly female 87%, and professional experience ranged between 1-47 years. RTs demonstrated the ability to detect patient anxiety and select appropriate management strategies, the most endorsed strategy was ‘acknowledgement of concerns and encouragement to express them’. When dealing with patients showing signs of anxiety, 17% of respondents rated themselves as ‘very confident’ and 60% as ‘somewhat confident’. RTs indicated a strong or moderate need for communication skills training (CST), 44% and 33% respectively. Conclusion
RTs reported a strong need for further training in CST, psychosocial support, and screening processes.These results will facilitate a systematic approach to up-skill RTs and improve psychosocial care outcomes for patients with cancer.
- To recognise signs of anxiety in patients undergoing radiation therapy
- To reflect on one’s own skill levels regarding psychosocial support for patient
- Understand the importance of training in psychosocial support and communication skills