Results: One quantitative, two mixed method and four qualitative studies were included in this review. Combined findings of the narrative summary and meta-synthesis identified promoting and inhibiting factors in the characteristics of nurses, patients, and the environment. Promoting factors in nurses included genuineness, competency and supportive facilitation skills. However, the role of post-basic training in improving communication remained inconsistent. In patients, active participation in their own care and information-seeking behaviour promoted nurse-patient communication. Conversely, inhibiting factors in nurses included task orientation, fear of own death and low self-awareness of own verbal behaviours. Nurses also communicated less effectively during psychological assessments and emotionally-charged situations. For patients, their unwillingness to discuss the disease/feelings, their preference to seek emotional support from family and friends and the use of implicit cues inhibited effective communication. Environmentally, a supportive ward environment increased the use of facilitative behaviour in nurses, whereas the existence of conflict among staff increased the use of blocking behaviours. Cultural norms in the Chinese society also inhibited nurse-patient communication. Conclusion: Within the constraints of the study and the few quality papers available, it appears that personal characteristics of patients and nurses are the key influencing factors of effective nurse-patient communication in the oncology setting. Very little evidence exists on the role of environment in effective nurse-patient communication, particularly within an Asian setting.