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Cancer: Greater emphasis on communication with patients

Cancer School CCC Vienna starts on 9 October
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Bild: CCC/Sabine Gruber

(Vienna, 26 September 2019) MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital want to see further improvements in communications between healthcare teams and cancer patients. They have initiated various measures to do this, such as greater use of nursing staff who have been specially trained in the needs of cancer patients, so-called Cancer Nurses. The Nursing Department of Vienna General Hospital has also created the position of Cancer Nurse to advise patients in all matters relating to their care. This will be the first time that nursing advisory services have been structured as outpatient services. In addition to this, guidelines have been issued for patients and their relatives. And last but not least there is the Cancer School CCC Vienna: this is a cancer education programme offered by the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital and is aimed at interested members of the public. The Cancer School starts its current series of lectures at MedUni Vienna on 9 October 2019.

There is a growing trend towards better patient communications in cancer care. "Our experience clearly shows that treatment is more successful when patients are properly and fully informed. Knowledge about one's own disease and the necessary treatment creates confidence in the medical treatment and increases treatment compliance," points out Matthias Preusser, Department of Medicine I of MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital, Head of the Division of Oncology, member of the CCC and one of the three directors of Cancer School CCC Vienna.

With this in mind, a post has been created for a cancer nurse within the division. As well as comprehensive technical training – for example in the management of side-effects – cancer nurses are specially trained in social and communication skills. Martina Spalt, member of the nursing staff and cancer nurse at the Department of Medicine I of Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna, says: "This special training enables us to identify crisis situations and to intervene effectively, if necessary. It also equips us to support our patients empathically."

For the same reason, a patient advice centre has been set up at the Department of Medicine I of Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna: the haematologic and oncologic advice and information centre (HOBI). The centre supports cancer patients in all matters relating to their care (e.g. subsidies, allowances, aid, respite services for care-giving relatives, maintaining independence in everyday life or boosting personal skills). Harald Titzer, member of the nursing staff und nursing adviser at the Department of Medicine I of Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna and Manager of HOBI says: "Our aim is to help our patients to live independently again. The more independent a person is, the greater their subjective quality-of-life. This also helps with their recovery."

Cancer School – cancer knowledge for all
The Cancer School CCC Vienna is a core patient communications project supported by both organisations. It is obviously directed at cancer patients, their relatives and those who want to know more about the disease. The causes of cancer, modern diagnosis and treatment techniques, aspects of after-care and socio-legal matters are presented and explained with the aid of lectures, workshops and excursions. The offering is free to all participants.

More time to inform patients
The aims of Cancer School CCC Vienna are clear: on the one hand to provide evidence-based data and facts and, on the other, to provide more time than would be available in a busy hospital setting to inform patients fully about many different aspects.

Cancer School CCC Vienna is held at Vienna General Hospital on Wednesday afternoons from 9 October until 27 November. Admittance is free but please register.

Time: Wednesdays from 16.30 to 18.30 hrs.
Place: Vienna General Hospital – Medical University Campus