Attributes of Psychosocial Distress from the Perspectives of Head-and-Neck Cancer Patients – A Thematic Analysis

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Objectives: Patients diagnosed with head-and-neck cancer (HNC) face unique challenges in comparison to other types of cancers. Sources of psychosocial distress (PSD) are multifactorial and recognising the key attributes would facilitate better understanding of the experienced distress, potentially enabling directed intervention strategies. The present research was conducted to explore the key attributes of PSD from HNC patients’ perspective to develop a tool. Material and Methods: The study adopted a qualitative approach. The data were collected from nine HNC patients receiving radiotherapy through focus group discussion. Data were transcribed, read and reread through for searching the meanings and patterns, to familiarise with the data and obtain ideas on experiences related to PSD. Similar experiences identified across the dataset were sorted and then collated into themes. Detailed analysis of themes and related quotes of the participants are reported with each theme. Results: The codes generated from the study are grouped under four major themes; ‘Irksome symptoms are distressing,’ ‘Distressing physical disability inflicted by the situation,’ ‘Social Curiosity – a distressing element’ and ‘Distressing uncertainty of future’. The attributes of PSD and the magnitude of psychosocial problems were reflected in the findings. Conclusion: Psychosocial health of HNC patients is greatly impacted due to disease and/or treatment. Dynamic patterns of attributes identified from the study contributed to developing a tool on PSD. The findings of this study also necessitate the need for constructing an intervention for reducing PSD based on the attributes from the HNC patient’s perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
JournalIndian Journal of Palliative Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 04-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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