To provide patient-centered care, it is essential to explore what patients consider important and to adjust care accordingly. This may specifically be relevant for patients with complex skin cancer, for whom the care process is often more complicated and psychological and social problems may play a larger role. The objective was to explore the experiences and needs of patients who had undergone surgical treatment by a dermatologist for a complex skin cancer with a subsequent reconstruction by a plastic surgeon. An interview study was conducted among 16 patients who had undergone surgical treatment by a dermatologist and reconstruction by a plastic surgeon for basal cell carcinoma, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, or lentigo maligna. The interviews focused on patients’ experiences and needs regarding care using a predefined topic list. All interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim and inductively analyzed using Atlas.ti. Patients reported a need for a skilled and friendly physician who tailors information and communication to their individual situation. A need for continuity of care and improved collaboration between healthcare providers was also emphasized. Furthermore, patients experienced complications and unmet expectations and expressed a need for shared decision-making at various steps throughout the treatment process (depending on age). Patients also considered completeness of tumor removal, follow-up visits with multiple specialists to be planned the same day and recognition of the psychological impact of the disease on the partner important. To improve patient-centered care for complex skin cancer patients, more efforts should be directed towards improving continuity of care and collaboration. Furthermore, it is advocated for physicians to be sensitive to the individual needs of patients and their partner and adjust information, communication and (supportive) care accordingly.

Experiences, Needs, Patient-centered, Reconstruction, Skin cancer,
Archives of Dermatological Research

van Egmond, S, Wakkee, M, Hoogenraad, M. (Marit), Korfage, I.J, Mureau, M.A.M. (Marc A. M.), & Lugtenberg, M. (2021). Complex skin cancer treatment requiring reconstructive plastic surgery: an interview study on the experiences and needs of patients. Archives of Dermatological Research. doi:10.1007/s00403-021-02204-3