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Finding a new normal: a grounded theory study of rehabilitation after treatment for upper gastrointestinal or gynaecological cancers – the patient's perspective

Authors


Correspondence address: Cathy Sandsund, Therapies Services, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ, UK (e-mail: catherine.sandsund@rmh.nhs.uk).

Abstract

This paper reports on a study of perspectives of rehabilitation needs by 33 people treated for upper gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers. This study used focus groups informed by grounded theory and involved adult participants who had completed radical treatment at a UK cancer centre. Patients were involved in the design. Findings indicate that these patients are likely to have ongoing rehabilitation needs and that there was poor awareness of possible treatment of symptoms and of rehabilitation services. Novel findings include distinct perspectives of adults who have completed treatment for upper gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers regarding their rehabilitation needs. Patients on surgical pathways, or who had longer hospital stays, had a better understanding of the rehabilitation services available to them and they accessed them more easily to ameliorate their post-treatment symptoms. Furthermore rehabilitation services are not equally accessed by patients on different treatment pathways. A grounded theory of cancer rehabilitation was developed with core categories of: impacts on the person, adjustment after treatment, individualised tailored support and information sources. The overarching theme is ‘seeking a new normal’. Individualised tailored support is integral to seeking and establishing a new normal. Routine assessment and referral for rehabilitation treatment warrants further evaluation in these groups.

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