A qualitative study exploring factors impacting the therapeutic outcome and experiences of clients using a psycho-oncology service : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Current research shows that people coping with cancer benefit from psychological
interventions. This qualitative study aimed to explore and identify factors which may
affect the experiences and therapeutic outcomes of clients using the Massey University
Psycho-Oncology Service (POS) in New Zealand as a case study. It is hoped that the
current study will add to the limited psycho-oncology literature from New Zealand and
also to the international knowledge base.
The findings presented in this study arise from the thematic analysis of semistructured
interviews with 24 participants who were recruited for the study. They
included women with breast or gynaecological cancer and family/whānau clients who
attended Massey’s Psycho-Oncology Service as well as psychologists of the Psycho-
Oncology Service and people affected by cancer who were not clients of the Service.
Four main themes were identified. These were Meaning of cancer – creating
distress, Dealing with it – reducing distress, Experience of POS, and Being a psychooncologist.
Factors that emerged which may impact the outcomes and experiences of
clients using POS included client expectations, inclusion of family members in therapy,
a strong therapeutic relationship and the personal connection that the POS psychologists
expressed sharing with clients, their work and the team.
This study was limited by low participant numbers. No clients came forward
who were dissatisfied with the Service meaning that factors which may have negatively
impacted outcomes could not be identified. Findings and implications are discussed.