Patients' experiences of completing treatment for colorectal cancer in a Scottish District General Hospital

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A review of the cancer literature from 1990 to 2003 indicated that some patients with cancer felt abandoned by healthcare professionals upon completion of treatment. With this in mind, a small qualitative study was undertaken to explore the experiences of patients completing treatment for colorectal cancer within a Scottish District General Hospital. A small purposeful sample of eight participants (surgery only n = 4 and surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy n = 4) who had completed treatment were recruited. Semi-structured interviews, in a venue chosen by the participants (home n = 7; hospital n = 1), were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The mean time since completion of treatment was 30 weeks (range 9–95 weeks). Transcripts were read and reread several times to identify categories. By thematic analysis, five categories were identified: physical impact of treatment, completion of treatment, support of family and friends, impact of healthcare professionals and coping mechanisms. Despite the significant physical impact of treatment patients returned to their previous lifestyles and status. Although very optimistic and positive when treatment was completed, participants reflected upon their cancer recurring. Family and friends were the main providers of support during their experiences, and healthcare professionals impacted upon participants both positively and negatively. Overall, the completion of treatment was described as a ‘great feeling’ and ‘relief’, with patients reporting that they felt adequately supported by healthcare professionals after completion of treatment.

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