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Keywords:

  • cancer patients;
  • feelings;
  • grounded theory;
  • information requirements;
  • nursing support;
  • protective isolation

Feelings of oncology patients about being nursed in protective isolation as a consequence of cancer chemotherapy treatment

This qualitative research explores the feelings of oncology patients nursed in protective isolation following high-dose chemotherapy. Five patients described their feelings about the isolation experience during audio-taped interviews lasting between a half and one hour. Tapes were transcribed and analysed, with emergent themes considered in relation to the other interviews and to the literature. The research findings indicate that cancer patients have specific concerns with regard to their experience in the isolation environment, which fall into four distinct categories of: ‘being shut in’; ‘coping with the experience’; ‘being alone’; and ‘maintaining contact with the outside world’. In addition, patients have concerns with regard to the experience of having cancer, that impinge upon the isolation experience. These are: ‘having cancer’; ‘suffering chemotherapy’; ‘knowing what to expect’; and ‘developing relationships with the health professionals’. The core variable is ‘something that I have to go through’. The nature of the relationship between the categories led to the development of an integrative model for exploring the feelings of cancer patients nursed in isolation. Most of the informants coped well with the isolation experience and described feeling supported by the nursing staff. Their overriding concern in fact, reflected a desire to receive information about their disease and reassurance regarding their treatment. Being in isolation appears to inhibit communication about these issues.