News Seminars

Cancer patients’ perspective of their nurse-patient communication in a busy hospital ward

Joint Online Seminar by Department of English and Communication and International Research Centre for the Advancement of Health Communication

Dr E. Angela Chan

School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University



Effective communication to address the psychosocial needs of patients is known to be of particular importance in cancer care. However, the clinical environment may shape patients’ perspectives of their need for emotional communication.  


To explore cancer patients’ perceptions and the meanings of their psychosocial care from their nurse-patient communication and interactions in a hospital setting in Hong Kong.


Ninety-three patients and the 24 corresponding nurses were recruited for the period of the patients’ stay in hospital. This was a focused ethnographic study involving observations of the ward and nurse-patient interactions during routine care such as administration of medications and treatment care, and interviews with patients on their perceptions and the meanings of their encounters with the nurses. Data from audio recordings were analysed using the cue-responding approach and content analysis was employed on data from patient interviews, with assigned coding and clustering for themes.


The findings include: 1. Patients’ perceptions of the nurses’ workloads and the environment; 2. Nurse-patient partnership and role expectations.


Patients’ perceptions of the busyness of the nurses and the clinical environment will alter their patterns of communication. Relationship building between patients and nurses can facilitate communication. However, nurses have limited time to talk to patients about their worries and concerns, but attention to the physical needs and care of patients would improve the patients’ psychosocial well-being. 

Dr E. Angela Chan, the Associate Director of the International Research Centre for the Advancement of Health Communication is also an Associate Professor and the Associate Head of pre-service education in the School of Nursing at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her studies have extended from a focus on caring, patient/person-centeredness, with narratives of the experiences of patients and nurses to patient safety and quality of care as a result of effective communication. This aspect of communication has found its way to her work on interprofessional education and collaborative practice as teamwork, openness in communication when speaking up in clinical settings, nurses’ shift handovers, and nurse-patient communication. She serves as the Associate Editor for the Qualitative Health Research (QHR) and holds numerous advisory and consultancy roles. Dr. Chan also assumes her role as a member of theGrand Review Board (GRB) of the Medical and Health Research Fund for the Research Council of the Food and Health Bureau, as well as an assessor of the enterprise support scheme of the Innovation and Technology Fund.