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Experiences of patients undergoing chemotherapy - A qualitative study of adults attending Uganda Cancer Institute

Wampaalu, P. B., Eriksson, L. E., Naamala, A. , Nabirye, R. C. & Wettergren, L. (2016). Experiences of patients undergoing chemotherapy - A qualitative study of adults attending Uganda Cancer Institute. African Health Sciences, 16(3), pp. 744-749. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v16i3.14


Background: Cancer is a global public health challenge and how patients in countries with poor healthcare infrastructure experience cancer treatment is largely unknown.

Purpose: The objective of this study was to describe adult Ugandan cancer patients’ experiences of undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Methodology: Using a qualitative descriptive design, seven in-patients with varying cancer diagnoses at the Uganda Cancer Institute were interviewed about their experiences of undergoing chemotherapy treatment; the interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically.

Results: The analysis resulted in nine subthemes, which were categorized under three main themes: ‘experiences related to the body’, with the subthemes dry and sensitive skin, changes in eating and bowel habits, fever and feelings of abnormal body sensation; ‘thoughts and feelings’, with four subthemes reflecting the psychosocial impact of chemotherapy; and ‘actively dealing with discomfort’, with three subthemes describing how patients dealt with side effects, such as by sticking to a diet.

Conclusion: Receiving chemotherapy treatment is difficult, and the side effects negatively influenced patients’ bodies and moods. Dealing actively with discomfort and accepting negative impacts in hope of a cure helped the participants manage the acute complications related to the treatment. We recommend the development of interventions to ease discomfort due to chemotherapy.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Cancer, chemotherapy, experiences, nursing, qualitative
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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