Purpose/Objectives: To explore occurrence of symptoms and relationships between them as perceived by patients with lymphoma before, during, and 14 months after the beginning of treatment.
Research Approach: Qualitative and longitudinal.
Setting: A major oncology center in the United Kingdom.
Participants: 10 adult patients with lymphoma (3 women and 7 men) were recruited at treatment initiation.
Methodologic Approach: Semistructured audiotaped interviews were conducted with participants in median 15 days, 4 months, and 14 months after diagnosis. Analysis of the verbatim transcripts was inspired by interpretive description, which is a grounded approach articulating patterns emerging in relation to clinical phenomena.
Main Research Variables: Symptoms.
Findings: Symptoms commonly reported by patients in this sample were lack of energy, lymphadenopathy, weight loss, itching, pain, sadness, night sweats, sleeping difficulties, and hair loss. Co-occurring prediagnosis symptoms seem to have led patients to seek medical attention; co-occurring symptoms during treatment seem to have a cumulatively distressing effect. Several of the symptoms were described as interrelated, with one symptom leading to one or more other symptoms.
Conclusions: The data confirm a complex symptomatology in patients with lymphoma. In addition, the findings support that co-occurring symptoms may have a synergistic effect on patients' health outcomes and add new knowledge about relationships between symptoms from patients' perspectives.
Interpretation: Illustrating symptoms and interrelationships between symptoms using diagrams may be useful to support communication as well as in identifying targets for symptom management.