Cancer patients' narratives about being a patient can break the silence of anxiety: A psychosocial analysis

Bidragets oversatte titel: Kræftpatienters fortællinger om at være patient kan bryde angstens stilhed: En psykosocial analyse

Birgitta Nordenhof Larsen, Anne Liveng

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Background: There is little knowledge of patients’ experiences of examinations for head and neck cancer (HNC) in a standardised fast-track trajectory (FTT).
Aim: To investigate the form and content of patient narratives in order to understand how patients experience being examined for HNC from the initial stage of adjustment to the diagnosis.
Methods: Narrative interviews were conducted in a Danish hospital ward. Themes were generated. A hermeneutical interpretation including a psychosocial approach was applied in the analysis.
Results: Five themes emerged: Satisfied with the fast track, Fear increases anxiety defences, Conscious of the unconscious, The role of spouses in anxiety defences, Anxiety should be included in the trajectory.
Conclusion: Patients were satisfied with the fast track, but worries about risks and consequences of cancer increased their anxiety defences. Some patients were conscious of their defences. Spouses could support patients by interrupting emotionally overwhelming narratives, but could also reinforce anxiety. Patients had no opportunity to talk about their anxiety during the fast-track trajectory, but expressed a need to break the silence. The article suggest that a nurse or other clinician should listen to patients narratives as a way of supporting them through the fast-track trajectory.

Keywords: Fast-track trajectory, head and neck cancer, awaiting cancer diagnosis, patient perspective, narrative interviewing, anxiety, anxiety defences.
Key points
• Patients waiting for a HNC diagnosis are satisfied with the fast-track trajectory,
• Fear of cancer increases patients’ anxiety defences,
• Gradually patients become conscious of their unconscious,
• Spouses can play a role in patients anxiety defences,
• Patients should be offered possibilities for dialogues about anxiety during the fast-track trajectory.
Bidragets oversatte titelKræftpatienters fortællinger om at være patient kan bryde angstens stilhed: En psykosocial analyse
TidsskriftJournal of Research in Nursing
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2020

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