Background: Although evidence suggests that empathic behaviour is an essential component in nursing care that affects the psychological distress experienced by cancer patients, it remains a neglected issue in nursing in Iran.
Methods: This study was conducted on 33 participants selected through purposive sampling. Data were collected using in-depth interviews and were then analysed using qualitative content analysis with an inductive approach.
Findings: Three categories of data thus emerged, comprising: (a) empathetic attention; (b) empathetic presence; and (c) the facilitators of empathetic behaviour.
Conclusions: The findings can help oncology nurses provide more empathetic care to patients and their family members.
Keywords: cancer; caring; compassion; descriptive qualitative method; empathy; nurse–patient relations; oncology nursing.
© The Author(s) 2018.