Objective: To (1) investigate emotional cues and concerns (C&C) of cancer patients expressed in e-mail communication with oncology nurses in an online patient-nurse communication service (OPNC), and (2) explore how nurses responded to patients' C&C.
Methods: 283 e-messages sent from 38 breast and 22 prostate cancer patients and 286 e-responses from five oncology nurses were coded with the Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences.
Results: We identified 102 cues and 33 concerns expressed in patients' messages. Cues indicating expression of uncertainty or hope, occurred most frequently (in 38.5% of messages), followed by concerns (in 24.4% of messages). Nurses responded to 85.2% of patients' C&Cs; more than half of patients' C&Cs were met with a mixture of information giving and empathic responses.
Conclusion: Patients with breast and prostate cancer express many C&C in e-mail communications with oncology nurses, who demonstrated satisfactory sensitivity to patients' emotions in their responses to patients.
Practice implications: Offering e-communication with oncology nurses to cancer patients is a promising and feasible supplement to usual care to address and relieve patients' concerns and emotional distress during illness and recovery.
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