An oasis in the hospital: The perceived benefits of a cancer support center in a hospital setting offering complementary therapies

Document Type

Journal Article


Sage Publications


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Nursing and Midwifery / Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research




Williams A.M., Bulsara C.E., Joske D.J.L., Petterson A.S., Nowak A.K., Bennett K.S. (2014). An Oasis in the Hospital: The Perceived Benefits of a Cancer Support Center in a Hospital Setting Offering Complementary Therapies. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 32(4), 250-260. Available here


Aims: The aim of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of persons attending a cancer support center, providing emotional support to cancer patients through self-selected complementary therapies offered free of charge through qualified volunteer therapists. A grounded theory methodology was used. Sources of data were 16 semistructured interviews with persons attending the center. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis was conducted using the constant comparative method. Findings: The overarching theme that emerged in this study was the benefits attributed to attendance at the cancer support center. The center was described as an “oasis” in the hospital, and three aspects relating to this were identified: (a) facilitating comfort, (b) increasing personal control, and (c) helping make sense of the cancer experience. Conclusion: A drop-in center offering complementary therapies appeared to enable coping with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer by facilitating comfort and increasing perceptions of personal control. The center also helped some participants to make sense of their experience with cancer. This research has provided a unique insight into the ongoing emotional needs of cancer patients, and directions for further development and research into the provision of holistic care for patients within a hospital setting.



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