Receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer: patients' interpretations, perceptions and perspectives

Yardley, S.; Davis, C.; Sheldon, F.
September 2001
Palliative Medicine;Sep2001, Vol. 15 Issue 5, p379
Academic Journal
Lung cancer has a higher incidence than any other type of cancer and more than 80% of sufferers die within a year of diagnosis. An important aspect of caring for cancer patients is the breaking of bad news, something that most doctors admit to having difficulty with. Only a few publications on this issue adopt the patients' perspective. This study aimed to document patients' views on delivery of lung cancer diagnoses, their attitudes to methods used and ideas for improvement. Patients were selected from medical, surgical and general practitioner clinics to provide insight into patients' perceptions of care in different environments. Those who gave informed consent completed a taped semi-structured interview. Transcripts were analysed qualitatively using a phenomenological approach. Recruitment was stopped when saturation was reached: no new themes were being identified. A summary of results was sent to patients, whenever possible, for their comment. An independent researcher coded four transcripts to establish the degree of inter-rater reliability. Thirteen patients were recruited. There were five key areas: communication (including the use of words such as 'tumour' and 'growth'), family/community issues, reaction to diagnosis, views on treatment and prognosis (all of which were very variable), and suggested improvements (e.g. a clearer explanation of the experience of bronchoscopy in the patient information leaflet, PIL). Inter-rater reliability was good. The PIL is being revised. Factors including family situation and personal experience of illness vary greatly and yet they influence patients' reactions to receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer, their interpretation of this and their attitudes to the illness and treatment. These findings underline the need to continue to develop lung cancer services that can provide quality care tailored to each patient.


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