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

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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.


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.


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.”


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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