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Questionnaires may be harmful to patients

A study by CQU's International Program for Psycho-Social Health Research (IPP-SHR) has revealed the use of standardised questionnaires in hospice practice negatively impacts upon the experiences and wellbeing of many patients and their carers.

The study, conducted in collaboration with Cittamani Hospice Service, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, involved a qualitative exploration of the impact that using standard information gathering questionnaires had on patients and their carers.

The study revealed that the majority of patients strongly disliked using questionnaires and felt that they served staff, rather than client, needs.

Patients experienced questionnaire use as inflexible, invasive, tedious, and depersonalising and felt that it pre-determined the information sharing agenda. This was seen to block the development of staff-consumer relationships, which are a cornerstone of successful hospice care.

Gathering information through informal talking was viewed as more relaxed, warmer, more personal and friendlier. An advantage of informal conversation was that it was seen to move at the client's pace. Difficult issues were able to be addressed with sensitivity rather than invasive inflexibility. Talking was reported to be as reliable a source of information as questionnaire use.

Overall, informal talking and conversation was seen to represent a flexible, sensitive and consumer-focused alternative to standardised questionnaire use.


Article published in Supportive Care in Cancer (2005, Vol. 13, No. 9, pp. 691-701).

Full text of this article and further information about this study can be found on IPP-SHR's website: .

For further information or an interview contact Dr Pam McGrath, by telephone: (07) 3374 1792, or by email: , or through the website:

Alternatively, contact Program Manager, Hamish Holewa, by telephone: (07) 3720 8084 or by email:

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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