Exploring patients’ lived experiences and perceptions of chemotherapy
evidence and practice    

Exploring patients’ lived experiences and perceptions of chemotherapy

Mohammad Fathi Assistant Professor, Clinical Care Research Center, Research Institute for Health Development, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran
Alireza Nikbakht Nasrabadi Faculty Member, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Ali Mohammadpour Faculty Member, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Gonabad, Iran
Sina Valiee Associate Professor, Clinical Care Research Center, Research Institute for Health Development, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran

Why you should read this article
  • To gain an in-depth understanding of patients’ lived experiences of chemotherapy

  • To appreciate the importance of the psychological, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of cancer care

  • To explore the role of hope as a coping mechanism for patients undergoing chemotherapy

Background Chemotherapy is one of the main systemic therapies for cancer, but often has significant negative effects on the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of patients’ lives. Therefore, it is important for nurses to understand patients’ experiences of chemotherapy to provide effective care and management.

Aim To explore Iranian patients’ lived experiences of chemotherapy.

Methods Nine hospital inpatients who had undergone at least one whole course of chemotherapy participated in 14 in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Qualitative data were analysed using a phenomenological approach and themes were generated.

Findings Participants described a broad range of experiences of chemotherapy. They perceived chemotherapy as altering their lives; causing physical and psychosocial suffering; bringing about uncertainty, but also hope; and representing a crucial means of fighting cancer – and, for some, a gift from God.

Conclusion Being aware of the effects of chemotherapy on patients’ lives is important in planning nursing interventions. Nurses need to develop strategies that will moderate the negative effects of chemotherapy, identify patients’ support systems and potential sources of hope, and use these to assist patients in coping with the disease and its treatment.

Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1636

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

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Conflict of interest

None declared

Fathi M, Nasrabadi AN, Mohammadpour A et al (2020) Exploring patients’ lived experiences and perceptions of chemotherapy. Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2020.e1636

Acknowledgements This article is derived from one of the authors’ PhD dissertation, which was financially supported by Tehran University of Medical Sciences. The authors would like to thank the patients at Tohid Hospital, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, in Sanandaj, Iran for their participation

Accepted 23 April 2019

Published online: 05 March 2020