Empowering patients for radiation therapy safety: Results of the EMPATHY study

With the increase of treatment complexity, enhancing safety is a key concern in radiation oncology. Beyond the involvement of the healthcare professional, patient involvement and empowerment could play a major role in that setting. We explored how patients perceived and fulfilled that role during their radiation treatment.

A voluntary and anonymous questionnaire was administered to all patients treated in our department between November 2013 and May 2014. The following data were collected: sociodemographic profile; information received and initiatives to search for additional information; behavior when an unusual treatment event was perceived; active involvement in the safety of the treatment; nature and perception of their own involvement. A statistical analysis was performed to assess behavioral predictors.

A total of 155 patients answered the survey. Most of them were treated for prostate (n=58, 37.4%), lung (n=27, 17.4%), head and neck (n=26, 16.8%) and breast (n=25, 16.1%). Only eight patients (5%) had previously received radiation therapy. Ninety-five percent of the patients estimated they had received enough information about their treatment, but 48% would have wanted more. When patients noticed an unusual event during their treatment session, most of them (61%) reported it to the radiation therapist.

Patient participation to radiation therapy safety should be encouraged to ensure a cooperative risk management. Healthcare professionals need to inform the patients on the basic technical processes involved in their treatment. Patient empowerment should be added to the verifications made by the radiation therapists and physicians but should not replace them.

Cancer radiotherapie : journal de la Societe francaise de radiotherapie oncologique. 2016 Oct 18 [Epub ahead of print]

J-E Bibault, A Pernet, V Mollo, L Gourdon, O Martin, P Giraud

Hôpital européen Georges-Pompidou, Radiation Oncology Department, 20, rue Leblanc, 75015 Paris, France; Université Paris Descartes, 12, rue de l'École-de-Médecine, 75006 Paris, France., Maison de la recherche, Centre d'étude et de recherche travail organisation pouvoir (Certop), UMR 5044, 5, allée Antonio-Machado, 31058 Toulouse cedex 9, France; Centre de recherche sur le travail et le developpement (CRTD), Laboratoire d'ergonomie EA 4132, 41, rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 Paris, France., Maison de la recherche, Centre d'étude et de recherche travail organisation pouvoir (Certop), UMR 5044, 5, allée Antonio-Machado, 31058 Toulouse cedex 9, France., CNRS, Centre de recherche sur les liens sociaux (Cerlis), UMR 8070, 45, rue des Saints-Pères, 75270 Paris cedex 06, France., Hôpital européen Georges-Pompidou, Radiation Oncology Department, 20, rue Leblanc, 75015 Paris, France; Université Paris Descartes, 12, rue de l'École-de-Médecine, 75006 Paris, France. Electronic address: .