Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice

Original Article

A qualitative focus group study to explore the information, support and communication needs of women receiving adjuvant radiotherapy for primary breast cancer

J.A. Hendrya1 c1

a1 Kingston University and St George's, University of London, London, UK


Purpose: This study aimed to explore the patient’s experience of the radiotherapy pathway with a view to improving patient-centred services.

Methods: Women’s views about the radiotherapy pathway were gathered through a focus group. Focus groups have been used extensively in qualitative research to gather rich meaningful data. A thematic analysis of the transcript identified areas of importance for the women, which could be used to direct service improvement.

Results: Five main themes emerged: information, communication and support, dignity and individualised care, service accessibility and staff relationships. Generally, staff were viewed as professionals and the radiotherapy service well run although women did identify several unmet needs during radiotherapy. Lack of information and perceived time constraints of busy staff was revealed. However women did feel treated with dignity, respect and as individuals. ‘End-of-treatment’ was a particular focus; women felt dedicated time with staff would enable discussion, information giving and support around this vulnerable time. In addition, women felt that communication barriers and time constraints influenced the information and support they experienced during radiotherapy.

Conclusion: The use of a focus group enabled service users to identify clear areas for improvement at a local level. Priorities include information, communication and support and the ‘end-of-treatment’.

(Online publication November 12 2010)


c1 Correspondence to: Julie Hendry, MSc, Senior Lecturer School of Radiography Kingston University and St George’s University of London Penrhyn Road, Kingston, Surrey KT1 2EE, UK. E-mail: