Development of the EMAP tool facilitating existential communication between general practitioners and cancer patients

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BACKGROUND: General practice recognizes the existential dimension as an integral part of multidimensional patient care alongside the physical, psychological and social dimensions. However, general practitioners (GPs) report substantial barriers related to communication with patients about existential concerns.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the development of the EMAP tool facilitating communication about existential problems and resources between GPs and patients with cancer.

METHODS: A mixed-methods design was chosen comprising a literature search, focus group interviews with GPs and patients (n = 55) and a two-round Delphi procedure initiated by an expert meeting with 14 experts from Denmark and Norway.

RESULTS: The development procedure resulted in a semi-structured tool containing suggestions for 10 main questions and 13 sub-questions grouped into four themes covering the existential dimension. The tool utilized the acronym and mnemonic EMAP (existential communication in general practice) indicating the intention of the tool: to provide a map of possible existential problems and resources that the GP and the patient can discuss to find points of reorientation in the patient's situation.

CONCLUSION: This study resulted in a question tool that can serve as inspiration and help GPs when communicating with cancer patients about existential problems and resources. This tool may qualify GPs' assessment of existential distress, increase the patient's existential well-being and help deepen the GP-patient relationship.

JournalEuropean Journal of General Practice
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)261-268
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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