An ethnographic inquiry into the psychosocial care for oncology patients in the community: Healing from the 4Es

Engle Angela Chan, Shirley Ching, Michael Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore how the provision of community care in a cancer support center can help cancer patients and survivors cope with the demands of cancer and its treatment. Methods: A focused ethnographic approach was adopted. Data were collected through participant observations and focus groups with various stakeholders. The data from the focus groups were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using constant comparative analysis. Results: Four main themes emerged: 1. Enabling users to achieve mental well-being on their coping journey, 2. Empowering users to deal with their uncertainties, 3. Enhancing meaningful nurturing interactions through the design of spaces and colors in the Centre, and 4. Evolving through seeing more value in themselves. These 4Es occurred through intimate human interaction in the Centre, which resulted in psychological renewal and the rebuilding of a sense of self among the users. Conclusions: This study provides insights on the provision of community support services for cancer patients/users, specifically on how to help them to regain control over their lives, not only through providing services for psychosocial renewal by engaging in intimate human interactions, but also by contributing to an understanding of the effect of the physical environment and space on healing. The results also reveal a virtuous circle of the 4Es as the synergies from the services, activities and the environment in the Centre, which provide a harmonious context for the users in coping with their cancer journey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Cancer care center
  • Community support
  • Ethnography
  • Humanity
  • Multi-disciplinary
  • Psychosocial services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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