Barriers to Quality of Care for Cancer Patients in Rural Areas: A Study from the Faroe Islands

Birna Mohr Joensen, Sonja Nielsen, Ása Róin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Research has indicated that cancer patients living in rural areas receive poorer quality of treatment and care than their urban counterparts. With a population of approximately 51,000, the Faroe Islands may be characterized as a small-scale, rural society. Due to the geographical location and size of the Faroe Islands, patients who live there often receive part of their treatment abroad. Although a shift in the focus of cancer care from a disease-focused approach to a person-centered approach has been successfully implemented elsewhere, legal and structural conditions unique to the Faroe Islands might prohibit the realization of this paradigmatic shift in the Faroe Islands. The aim of this qualitative study was to examine how Faroese cancer patients have experienced their disease, treatment, and care and provide additional knowledge on cancer patients living in small-scale and rural societies.
Methods: Five men and three women who had been through a cancer treatment course with a good prognosis volunteered to be interviewed. Their ages varied from 40 to 80 years. “Active interviewing”, a constructionist approach to qualitative interviewing and latent thematic analysis, was applied.
Results: Three overlapping themes were identified from the categories: sense of coherence, resources and challenges in everyday life, and trust in the system. The analysis uncovered multiple factors related to legal and structural conditions that were barriers to ensuring the quality of cancer care for patients, for instance, shifting consultants, a lack of coherence in treatment, information loss and insufficient contact with cancer nurse specialists.
Discussion: This study is based on a limited number of participants. However, the findings from this study provide insight into the special conditions of cancer patients living in a small-scale, rural society and help explain disparities in the quality of cancer treatment and care between urban and rural areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2020


  • cancer patients
  • quality of care
  • rural areas
  • small scale societies
  • supportive care
  • thematic analysis


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