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A Qualitative Analysis of the Preoperative Needs of Patients With Papillary Thyroid Cancer
Susan C. Pitt, MD, MPHS,a,* Elizabeth Wendt, MPH,a,1 Megan C. Saucke, MA,a Corrine I. Voils, PhD,a,b Jason Orne, PhD,c Cameron L. Macdonald, PhD,c Nadine P. Connor, PhD,a and Rebecca S. Sippel, MDa
a Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin
b William Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin
c Qualitative Health Research Consultants, LLC, Madison, Wisconsin
Accepted 14 June 2019 Available online xxx
Background: Thyroid cancer patients report unmet needs after diagnosis. However, little is known about their specific needs. Therefore, we sought to characterize the needs of pa-tients with thyroid cancer before undergoing surgery.
Material and methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with 32 patients with papillary thyroid cancer after their preoperative surgical consultation. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis.
Results: The central need of patients with thyroid cancer was a strong patient-surgeon relationship characterized by informational and emotional support, and respect for the patient as a person. Patients preferred disease- and treatment-related information to be individualized and to take into account aspects of their daily life. They wanted adequate time for asking questions with thoughtful answers tailored to their case. Patients addi-tionally desired emotional support from the surgeon characterized by empathy and vali-dation of their cancer experience. They particularly wanted surgeons to address their fears and anxiety. Patients also highly valued the surgeons’ ability to see beyond their disease and acknowledge them as a unique person with respect to their occupation, psychosocial state, and other individual characteristics. When surgeons met patients’ needs, actin felt reassured, comfortable with their cancer diagnosis, and prepared for treatment. Subopti-mal support increased patients’ anxiety particularly when they felt the surgeon minimized their concerns.
Conclusions: Preoperatively, patients with thyroid cancer desire a strong patient-surgeon relationship. They rely on the surgeon to provide adequate informational and emotional support and respect them as individuals. In turn, patients feel reassured and prepared for treatment.