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Integrating self-management into daily life following primary treatment: head and neck cancer survivors’ perspectives

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp


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© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Background: Self-management may help cancer survivors to better deal with challenges to their physical, functional, social and psychological well-being presented by cancer and its treatment. Nonetheless, little is known about how people integrate cancer self-management practices into their daily lives. The aim of this study was to describe and characterise the processes through which head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors attempt to integrate self-management into their daily lives following primary treatment. Methods: Using a purposeful critical case sampling method, 27 HNC survivors were identified through four designated cancer centres in Ireland and participated in face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Six themes describing HNC survivors’ attempts to integrate self-management into their lives following treatment were identified: grappling with having to self-manage, trying out self-management strategies, becoming an expert self-manager, struggling to integrate self-management strategies into daily life, avoiding recommended self-management and interpreting self-management. Conclusions: This is the first study to describe HNC survivors’ attempts to integrate self-management into their daily lives following primary treatment. The findings indicate that HNC survivors exhibit highly individualised approaches to self-management integration and abandon self-management strategies that fail to meet their own specific needs. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Survivors may benefit from skills training and structured support to assist their transition between in-patient care and having to self-manage after primary treatment, and/or ongoing support to deal with persistent and recurring challenges such as eating difficulties and fear of recurrence.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dunne S, Coffey L, Sharp L, Desmond D, Gooberman-Hill R, O'Sullivan E, Timmons A, Keogh I, Timon C, Gallagher P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Cancer Survivorship

Year: 2019

Volume: 13

Issue: 1

Pages: 43-55

Print publication date: 01/02/2019

Online publication date: 08/12/2018

Acceptance date: 27/11/2018

ISSN (print): 1932-2259

ISSN (electronic): 1932-2267

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.1007/s11764-018-0726-4


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