Natural conversations

Empowerment of cancer patients

Course: Multi-stakeholder Innovation

Methods: Desk Research, Affinity Diagram, Contextual Research, Interviews, Multi-Stakeholder Workshop, Postdramatic Theatre

Role: User researcher and facilitator

Timeline: 04/2016-05/2016

Teammates: Ferran (ES), Mirzel (BA)

Keywords: Participatory Innovation, Cancer Treatment, Healthcare

The aim of the team project was to address empowerment of cancer patients through the engagement of stakeholders such as doctors, nurse educators, self-tracking experts, healthcare consultants, and design researchers. The objective of the course was to contribute to a multi-stakeholder innovation EU-funded project called Prometheus. 


Identifying and overcoming communication barriers between cancer patients, relatives and medical staff in order to facilitate a more democratic design of the treatment.

A proper treatment needs to take care of three main spheres: disease, health and life. While health professionals have a strong understanding of the disease and health sphere, it is usually difficult for them to be knowledgeable about the life sphere of the patient. It is very important, that the patient is able to contribute to the design of the treatment with a solid understanding of their routines, interests and healthcare goals. The patient has to feel enabled to communicate openly and naturally with the other stakeholders about the situation. Our research explored how to facilitate those conversations by eliminating the barriers that prevent them from happening. 


Our concept Tickets to natural conversations was a pack of tickets that could encourage patient to involve others in a treatment process. This tool could help to get others to understand how could they support the patient. The tool was in the form of tickets separated into categories in different stacks. A stack could consist for example 10 tickets with the activities such as spending an evening night with someone or playing mini golf every Monday. The aim was to allow patients to get used to talk with people about their situation and make to the best team.


Our initial stage of the process involved analysis of previous work related to the Prometheus project, desk research, and participation in a Prometheus multi-stakeholder workshop. By having the chance to learn about direct and personal stories from real patients, we could understand and empathize with stakeholders from the very beginning of the process. The analysis helped us to narrow down our research topic theme from “Social interactions and networks” to “Natural conversations”.

We conducted five interviews with four cancer patients and one doctor. Based on the interviews we found out that:
• Patients find it difficult to ask for help
• Relatives and friends don’t usually know how to react
• A comfortable environment (or shared activity) helps conversations flow.


We designed a multi-stakeholder workshop for one cancer patient, two relatives, one gatekeeper/informant and a researcher in order to develop a better understanding of dynamic barriersThe first stage explored the concept of natural conversations by establishing open discussions.

At the second stage, we used creative techniques to brainstorm ideas that would help us eliminate the barriers that emerge in the communication between cancer patients and the rest of the stakeholders.


The workshop provided us with the following findings:
• Objects help in having conversation – stress relief
• Space setting can impede and facilitate conversations
• Avoiding the first awkward moment might help communication flow better
• Inform/teach patient, relative and healthcare givers to understand both sides
• A lot of dynamic barriers.

The key findings from the workshop, the interviews and the contextual research were established into connections in order to find potential areas that led us to a design proposal.

Due to the time constraints, we could use just a single day to come up with a concept that could help address the issues we observed.

You can write me for full detailed report 🙂