An exploration of the existential experiences and emotional needs of patients following curative treatment for cancer: Reflections from a UK sample

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Abstract

To date, the main focus within the National Health Service (NHS) have tended to be on ‘Diagnosis’ and ‘Treatment’ and little emphasis has traditionally been placed on the period following these phases. Research into the existential experiences of cancer patients has largely reflected this by focusing either on the diagnostic and treatment stage or by examining the cancer experience as a whole. Little is therefore known about patients’ existential experiences in the post-treatment phase. The present study aimed to explore the existential experiences of patients who had undergone first-line treatment for cancer and were in remission, with the purpose of increasing understanding around patients’ experiences and support needs in this aspect of the cancer journey. To achieve this, eight participants (18–62 yrs) were interviewed for approximately 60–90 minutes. Analysis of the data using Inductive Thematic Analysis generated six major themes: death anxiety, freedom, isolation, meaning orientation, intra-psychic conflict, and support needs. The study demonstrated the presence of a range of existential experiences in patients’ lives after the end of their treatment and patients’ frequent difficulty in accessing support for such needs. Clinical applications of the study were also considered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2010

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour

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