‘I’m living with a chronic illness, not . . . dying with cancer': a qualitative study of Australian women's self-identified concerns and needs following primary treatment for breast cancer

Authors

  • M. OXLAD m.psych, phd, research assistant,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
      Melissa Oxlad, Child Protection Services, Children, Youth and Women's Health Service, Women's and Children's Hospital, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide, SA 5006, Australia (e-mail: Melissa.Oxlad@cywhs.sa.gov.au).
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    • 1

      Present address: Child Protection Services, Children, Youth and Women's Health Service, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
      Sources of support: This research was supported by a Flinders Medical Centre Foundation grant, with money raised by the Blokes for Breast Cancer, to Associate Professor Tracey Wade.

  • T.D. WADE m.psych, phd, associate professor,

    1. School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
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  • L. HALLSWORTH b.psych.(hons), clinical doctorate candidate,

    1. School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
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  • B. KOCZWARA bm bs , fracp , mbioethics , head of medical oncology

    1. Department of Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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Melissa Oxlad, Child Protection Services, Children, Youth and Women's Health Service, Women's and Children's Hospital, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide, SA 5006, Australia (e-mail: Melissa.Oxlad@cywhs.sa.gov.au).

Abstract

This study aimed to identify the current concerns and needs of Australian women who had recently completed primary treatment for breast cancer in order to develop a workbook-journal for this population. Focus groups were utilized to allow women to use their own frames of reference, and to identify and verbalize the topics that were important to them following treatment. All focus groups were conducted in a patient education and relaxation room, familiar to the women to assist them to feel more at ease. Ten women aged 36–68 years who had recently completed treatment for early-stage breast cancer at a South Australian public hospital took part in one of three focus groups. Topics covered included current physical, emotional and social needs. Participants reported a sense of apprehension about the future at the completion of primary treatment. In addition to this, five specific areas of concern were identified including physical sequelae of treatment, intimacy issues, fear of recurrence, benefit finding, and optimism versus pessimism about the future. Means of addressing post-treatment concerns were also discussed. Following the presentation of these findings, suggestions to aid health-care professionals in their clinical practice are provided.

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