Background: Systematic assessments of cancer patients' rehabilitation needs are recommended, and questionnaires are considered to be useful tools when making such assessments.
Objective: The aim of this study was to explore patients' experience of completing a questionnaire about their problems and distress at home prior to a needs assessment in general practice.
Methods: Sixteen patients were recruited by their general practitioners (GPs). Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the home of the participants and at the general practice, with one interview taking place over the phone. Data were analyzed using systematic text condensation.
Results: Twelve women and four men aged between 49 and 83 years of age, and diagnosed with various cancers between 1 month and 4 years ago, participated in the study. The results showed how the completion of a questionnaire at home provided patients with an opportunity to reflect on different problems, and the importance of these problems to the patient's everyday life, as well as an opportunity to articulate which problems they wanted to discuss with their GPs.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate that completing a questionnaire seems to stimulate patients' ability to reflect on their situation, clarify the importance of different problems to their everyday lives, and articulate these considerations to their GPs. Furthermore, we have shown that a questionnaire has the ability to interact with the patient and instigate a process of awareness. It is important to acknowledge this process of interaction between patient and questionnaire as an important part of understanding how and why questionnaires may support the patient when completing a questionnaire prior to a clinical encounter.