Chemotherapy Acute Infusion Reactions: A Qualitative Report of the Perspectives of Patients With Cancer

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Abstract

Objective:

A growing number of cancer antineoplastic agents can cause life-threatening acute infusion reactions. Because previous studies have not studied these reactions from the perspective of patients, this study was undertaken with that objective in mind.

Methods:

Patients who had an acute infusion reaction were interviewed based on the Leventhal model. Once saturation of content was achieved, interviews were transcribed and analyzed with qualitative methodology.

Results:

Twenty-one patients were enrolled. Most were women (n = 15); the median age was 58 years, and paclitaxel was the most common inciting agent. Three themes emerged. First, these reactions are frightening; patients made remarks such as “I was just thinking oh my God, I am dying.” Second, prior education about these reactions seemed to mitigate this fear, “Basically everything the nurses told me potentially could happen, like happened. So, I was prepared.” Third, when health-care providers were prompt and attentive during the reaction, patients described less fear with future chemotherapy, “So no, I’m really not fearful about going in tomorrow because I know they’ll be there and they’ll be watching me.”

Conclusion:

These reactions evoke fear which can be mitigated with education prior to and with prompt responsiveness during the acute infusion reaction.

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