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Symptoms Before, During, and 14 Months After the Beginning of Treatment as Perceived by Patients With Lymphoma

Eva Johansson
Barbara Wilson
Lisa Brunton
Carol Tishelman
Alex Molassiotis
ONF 2010, 37(2), E105-E113 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.E105-E113

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.

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