This article discusses findings from a mixed method literature review that investigated
cancer patients’ perceptions of what constitutes a good nurse. To find pertinent articles,
we conducted a systematic key word search of five journal databases (1998–2008). The
appli cation of carefully constructed inclusion criteria and critical appraisal identified 12
relevant articles. According to the patients, good nurses were shown to be characterized
by specific, but inter-related, attitudes, skills and knowledge; they engage in person-toperson
relationships, respect the uniqueness of patients, and provide support. Professional
and trained skills as well as broad and specific nursing and non-nursing knowledge are
important. The analysis revealed that these characteristics nurtured patient well-being,
which manifests as optimism, trust, hope, support, confirmation, safety and comfort.
Cancer patients’ perceptions of what constitutes a good nurse represent an important
source of knowledge that will enable the development of more comprehensive and
practice-based views on good nursing care for such patients. These perceptions help us to
understand how nurses effectively make a difference in cancer patient care.