Women's Experiences of Information, Education and Support When Undergoing Pelvic Radiotherapy for Gynaecological Cancer: An Exploratory Qualitative Study

Claire Powlesland, Fiona MacGregor, Katherine Swainston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: As cancer survival rates increase, so does the importance of preventing and alleviating the late effects of Radiotherapy. The effect of long-term problems on patients’ physical, social and psychological well-being must be addressed along with the importance of developing an understanding of the late effects of treatment to find ways of maximising the quality of life of cancer survivors. The aim of this service evaluation was to establish what support, information and education on post treatment changes women who have undergone pelvic radiotherapy for gynaecological cancer were provided with, and whether it met their needs.

Methods: An interpretative phenomenological analysis was undertaken to explore the support, information and education on post treatment changes women who have undergone pelvic radiotherapy for gynaecological cancer are currently provided with and whether or not it meets their needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain insight into the experiences of participants. Researcher reflexivity was considered and ethics permissions granted.

Results: This paper reports the themes from analysis; communication and information provision, abandonment, service provision, and sexual health and intimacy. All patients experienced feelings of abandonment at the completion of treatment and those experiencing ongoing side effects needing greater support, particularly to manage side effects affecting the bowel and bladder.

Conclusion: This study fills a gap in existing knowledge and identifies that patients with a Gynaecological cancer require greater communication and support. The introduction of a Therapeutic Radiographer led late effects clinic and sexual care after radiotherapy clinic could provide the support and information that patients need to cope with the long-term side-effects experienced due to Pelvic Radiotherapy.

Implications for practice: This service evaluation highlights the importance of including patient perspectives when designing and developing services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRadiography
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Oct 2022

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