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Living with cancer and perception of care: Icelandic oncology outpatients, a qualitative study

  • Elisabet Hjörleifsdottir
  • Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
  • Elin Dianna Gunnarsdottir
  • Ingrid Agren Bolmsjo
Publishing year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 515-524
Publication/Series: Supportive Care in Cancer
Volume: 16
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Aim This qualitative study was set out to explore oncology outpatient experiences of having cancer, to illuminate coping strategies and to explore perceptions of care and service provided while treated for cancer. Materials and methods Thirty patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy were consecutively selected for the study in three oncology outpatient clinics in Iceland; mean age was 55 years. All participants gave written consent but five dropped out of the study. Twenty-five semi-structured single interviews were conducted and analysed using manifest and latent content analysis. Results The descriptive level of the text could be understood as: (a) getting cancer: alarming experience; (b) coping: balancing life as it was before cancer against present situation to achieve normality; (c) satisfaction: encountering caring behaviour enhances satisfaction and well being. Each of the categories encompassed variation of subcategories. All the categories were summarised in the core category: "Being in the alarming situation of getting cancer evokes a strong need to maintain normality and keep uncertainty at distance with support from caring and sensitive encounters." This reflected patients' overall experiences of being diagnosed with cancer, how they coped and their perception of quality of care while going through treatment. Conclusion Reactions to the diagnosis of cancer indicate strong emotional reactions. A strong will to handle the situation and determination to maintain normality in life was prominent. Establishment of positive patient-health care professional relationships, caring encounters, faith, believing in treatment and support from family was highly valued as support and giving hope.


  • Cancer and Oncology
  • outpatients
  • distress
  • cancer
  • coping
  • satisfaction


  • ISSN: 0941-4355
Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
E-mail: ingalill [dot] rahm_hallberg [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emerita

Health-promoting Complex Interventions