An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of living with colorectal cancer as a chronic illness

Grant J. McGeechan, Kerri E. McPherson, Karen Roberts

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    Aims and objectives: The main aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of patients living with cancer as a chronic illness.
    Background: Due to recent advances in detection and treatment, cancer is now regarded as a chronic illness. However, living with cancer as a chronic illness can lead to a number of physical and psychosocial consequences all of which can lead to uncertainty over how patients view and plan for their future.
    Design: A longitudinal qualitative study.
    Methods: Individuals attending oncology follow-up clinics with their clinical nurse specialist at a hospital in the North East of England were invited to participate in two semi-structured interviews over a 6-month period. A total of six individuals consented to participate, of whom two were women. One participant could not be contacted for the second interview, resulting in 11 interviews. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, pseudonymised and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
    Results: Two superordinate themes emerged from the analysis; physical and psychological consequences of cancer; and adapting to life after treatment.
    Conclusion: The experience of future disorientation was common amongst participants however this was impacted on by a number of factors such as functional impairment, and fear of recurrence. Furthermore, future disorientation does not appear to be stable and may ease as patients begin to adjust to the uncertainty of living with colorectal cancer as a chronic illness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3148-3156
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Issue number15-16
    Early online date12 May 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018



    • interpretative phenomenological analysis
    • chronic illness
    • colorectal cancer

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