The lived experience of head and neck cancer patients receiving curative radiotherapy: A systematic review and meta‐ethnography

Russell Fitchett, Edward Aldus, Lucy Fitchett, Jane Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: This review aims to explore, appraise, and synthesise the existing evidence of the meaning that head and neck cancer (HNC) patients assign to the experience of receiving curative radiotherapy.
Methods: Qualitative evidence synthesis was undertaken using meta‐ethnography. Published literature was identified using 7 databases: AMED, ASSIA, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, and PsycINFO. Databases were searched from January 2005 to April 2017. The strategy was supplemented by grey literature and citation searches.
Results: Out of 1403 titles, 57 abstracts and 35 full texts were screened. Ultimately, 8 studies were eligible for inclusion. The evidence base was moderate to strong in quality. Most of the studies showed that HNC patients undergoing radiotherapy have unmet needs. Four related concepts were identified: the disruption to life that the disease and radiotherapy treatment cause, patients' feelings of isolation, the need for patients to make sense of their situation, and the waiting and uncertainty that radiotherapy creates.
Conclusions: The current literature suggests that both HNC and radiotherapy cause disruption in patients' lives. Radiotherapy causes many unpleasant side effects, and in this difficult treatment period, HNC patients feel isolated, uncertain, and in need of coping strategies. Therapeutic radiographers are ideally placed to offer a supportive relationship. By having a deeper understanding of patients' lived experience, radiographers may form stronger relationships and more effectively help patients through their radiotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2077-2086
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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