A Meta-Synthesis of Studies of Patients’ Experience of Living With Terminal Cancer

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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this research was to produce a synthesis of phenomenological studies of the experience of living with the awareness of having terminal cancer to gain a more complete understanding of the parameters of this experience. Methods: This research used meta-synthesis as a method for integrating the results of 23 phenomenological studies of the experience of living with the awareness of having terminal cancer published between 2011 and 2016. Results: The meta-synthesis generated 19 theme clusters that informed the construction of four master themes: trauma, liminality, holding on to life, and life as a cancer patient. Each master theme captures a distinct experiential dimension of living with the awareness of having terminal cancer. Each dimension brings with it significant and distinctive psychological challenges. Conclusion: The results from the present meta-synthesis suggest that the experience of living with the awareness of having terminal cancer is a multidimensional experience that patients actively negotiate as they search for ways in which they can rise to the psychological challenges associated with it. A better understanding of the parameters of this experience can help health care professionals provide appropriate support for this client group.

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