Learning to provide humanistic care and support in the context of chronic illness: Insights from the narratives of healthcare professionals in hemato-oncology


  • Learning journey for HCPs in managing relationships, navigating between empathy and sympathy.
  • Personal and professional experiences shape the empathetic approaches of HCPs in cancer care.
  • Accumulation of experiences serves as benchmarks for refining humanistic care
  • Acknowledging informal encounters among professional groups to enhance experiential learning
  • Suggestions include implementing internships focused on relationship building in diverse situations.



To document the process by which healthcare professionals (HCPs) support people living with and beyond hematological cancer and detail how they learned from their personal and clinical experience.


Using a narrative approach, we conducted nine semi-structured interviews with HCPs, including nurses, from a specialized care centre who support patients with hematological cancer. Interviews aimed to capture experiential learning gained from their practice. We performed a hybrid inductive/deductive content analysis on data using a framework based on sociological and educational models of experiential learning.


Among healthcare professionals, analysis revealed the need to provide care and support that is ‘humane’ and adapted to each patient. Learning to provide this type of care proved to be challenging. Over the course of their clinical experience, healthcare professionals learned to adapt the support they provided by straddling a boundary between sympathy and empathy. Learning outcomes were associated with personal-professional development among participants.


Our findings bring to light an overlooked facet of patient support in the context of cancer care, which is the acquisition of the soft skills required to deliver humanistic care and support. This learning process requires time and involves navigating between the realms of sympathy and empathy. Experiential learning is intertwined with the complexity of the often long-term patient-professional relationship that characterizes hemato-oncology. This unique relationship offers rewards for healthcare professionals on both personal and professional fronts.

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 6 avril 2024 à 12 h 53 min.