Living with advanced cancer: Rich Pictures as a means for health care providers to explore the experiences of advanced cancer patients

Zarah M. Bood, Michael Scherer-Rath, Mirjam A. G. Sprangers, Liesbeth Timmermans, Ellen van Wolde, Sayra M. Cristancho, Fenna Heyning, Silvia Russel, Hanneke W. M. van Laarhoven, Esther Helmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To provide holistic care to patients with advanced cancer, health care professionals need to gain insight in patients’ experiences across the different domains of health. However, describing such complex experiences verbally may be difficult for patients. The use of a visual tool, such as Rich Pictures (RPs) could be helpful. We explore the use of RPs to gain insight in the experiences of patients with advanced cancer. Methods: Eighteen patients with advanced cancer were asked to draw a RP expressing how they experienced living with cancer, followed by a semi-structured interview. Qualitative content analysis, including the examination of all elements in the drawings and their interrelationships, was used to analyze the RPs, which was further informed by the interviews. Results: The RPs clearly showed what was most important to an individual patient and made relations between elements visible at a glance. Themes identified included: medical aspects, the experience of loss, feelings related to loss, support from others and meaningful activities, and integration of cancer in one's life. The added value of RPs lies in the ability to represent these themes in one single snapshot. Conclusions: RPs allow for a complementary view on the experiences of advanced cancer patients, as they show and relate different aspects of patients’ lives. A RP can provide health care professionals a visual summary of the experiences of a patient. For patients, telling their story to health care professionals might be facilitated when using RPs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4957-4966
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019

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