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Open Access Article

Identifying Primary Concerns in Patients Newly Diagnosed With Lung Cancer

Rebecca Lehto

lung cancer, lung cancer stigma, patient fears
ONF 2011, 38(4), 440-447. DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.440-447

Purpose/Objectives: To compare illness concerns before and after surgery in patients newly diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer, and to determine whether perceived healthcare environment factors were associated with reduced concerns and cancer-related worry.

Design: Participants completed a semistructured interview using the conceptual content cognitive map (3CM) method. Important concepts were identified in a spatial array representative of a cognitive map of the illness.

Setting A comprehensive cancer center and a Veterans Affairs medical center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: 34 men (n = 22) and women (n = 12), aged 47-83 years (X = 65, SD = 10), with newly diagnosed lung cancer were interviewed at the time of diagnosis and again three to four weeks after surgery.

Methods: Content and frequency analysis and descriptive statistics were used to characterize the data. Correlation studies and paired t tests were used to determine relationships among the main study variables.

Main Research Variables: Illness perceptions, worry, and health environment experience.

Findings: Twelve primary content domains were identified pre- and postoperatively (seven negative and five positive). Cancer-related worry was related to negative content and to fears both before and after surgery. Positive health environment perceptions were related to positive content after surgery.

Conclusions: The findings demonstrate important areas of concern that can be targeted to reduce psychological distress and promote adaptation.

Implications for Nursing: The willingness of nurses to identify concerns, assist patients to participate in care, and identify strategies to manage unresolved issues early in the treatment trajectory is integral to optimize long-term adjustment.

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