Introduction: Health professionals have a duty of care to radiotherapy patients in providing them with adequate information before treatment. There is a lack of research that describes the roles of radiation therapists and radiation oncology nurses in providing information to patients. This study aimed to: (1) explore how radiation therapists communicate with breast cancer patients during a radiotherapy planning appointment; (2) determine what information is provided during this appointment and (3) explore radiation therapists’ perspectives on their role in providing patient information and support.
Methods: The following methodologies were used: self-report questionnaires; simulated radiotherapy planning sessions and joint interpretive forums. Statistical analysis was used to analyse the questionnaires and the simulated planning sessions and forums were analysed qualitatively.
Results: A total of 110 radiation therapists participated in the survey. We simulated two radiotherapy planning appointments and held two forums. Four themes emerged: role definitions, reducing patient anxiety and distress, barriers and strategies for effective communication and confidence in patient communication.
Conclusion: Radiation therapists play an important role in communicating with patients and providing information, particularly if patients exhibit anxiety and distress. Further research is required to determine whether patients’ information needs can be met with additional information provided by radiation therapists.