Objective: To explore women's experiences with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia during diagnosis and treatment.
Design: Two focus groups, each with 3 participants, were conducted as a pilot study. Participants were asked open-ended questions about their experiences, quality of life, sexual functioning, body image, and well-being. Responses were audio taped, transcribed, and independently analyzed by 2 researchers to identify themes and develop categories of the participants' experiences.
Setting: Participants were recruited from an urban oncology clinic.
Patients/Participants: The study population consisted of 6 White women ranging in age from 22 to 72 years.
Methods: Participants with a diagnosis of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia were recruited using flyers posted in their oncologist's office. An interview guide was used focusing on participants' experiences.
Results: Participants described a cyclic journey with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia related to the recurrent nature of the disease. Two internal influences on the journey were described: spirituality and time in life. Five external influences were discussed: significant others, health care providers, family, friends, and others with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia.
Conclusion: Health care providers cannot alter the recurrent nature of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia; however, they can better understand a woman's experience and the variables that impact her experience in a negative or positive way.