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Support Needs of People With Head and Neck Cancer Regarding the Disease and Its Treatment

Mariëlle A.C. Peeters
Cora Braat
Janet M.J. Been-Dahmen
Gerda M. Verduijn
Wendy H. Oldenmenger
AnneLoes van Staa
ONF 2018, 45(5), 587-596 DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.587-596

Objectives: To provide insight into people’s experiences in dealing with the consequences of head and neck cancer (HNC) in daily life and their needs for self-management support.

Sample & Setting: 13 people with HNC who were successfully treated in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Methods & Variables: Two focus groups and six individual interviews; data were analyzed with directed content analysis.

Results: Most patients wished to receive professional support for dealing with post-treatment consequences. Apart from physical complaints, patients had difficulties in dealing with the emotional aspects of HNC and its treatment and struggled with building self-confidence to move on with their lives. Patients mentioned the importance of relatives being there for them but complained that their needs were not always met. Support from fellow patients was valued for their empathetic capacity.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses must provide self-management support that meets people’s integral needs inherent in living with the consequences of HNC, particularly in the initial post-treatment period. Practical interventions could be useful.

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