Coping with the consequences of chemotherapy: The experience of women with breast cancer

Andrea Gibbons, AnnMarie Groarke

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Objective: To examine how women cope with the physical and psychosocial consequences of chemotherapy as treatment for breast cancer. Methods: Twenty women took part in semi-structured interviews focusing on the experience of chemotherapy. Qualitative thematic analyses were conducted and two broad themes emerged; consequences of chemotherapy, and coping with chemotherapy. Results: A number of negative consequences were reported, such as distress, changes in role identity, and body image issues. These were often caused directly by the physical impact of treatment. Fatigue was a major problem, which led to further negative psychosocial consequences, such as inability to engage in normal activities and a sense of isolation. The most important method used to minimise the impact of treatment was maintaining a sense of control. This was achieved by engaging in self-care behaviours such as medication use, diet and exercise; whilst maintaining a positive attitude, positive reappraisal, and reprioritising goals were used to reduce distress. Conclusions: Interventions that focus on encouraging a sense of control in women receiving chemotherapy may have beneficial effects on minimising the physical and psychosocial impact of treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012

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