Qualitative description of the adult patient experience of cancer-related cachexia (CRC) : a pilot study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Nursing, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis explores the experience of living with cancer-related cachexia (CRC) from
the patient perspective. Critique of the literature indicates few examples where patients
have had the opportunity to speak. Following a challenging recruitment process, six
people living with the syndrome were interviewed to elicit their narrative. Their stories
were examined and themes identified relating to their personal feelings and how these
affected social interactions. Thematic analysis was applied to produce what is a rich
qualitative description of the experience from this small sample.
Living with CRC requires development of strategies to survive. Emergent themes
included the loss of sense of self and a changing relationship to the social world, social
isolation and dissatisfaction with truth-telling by health professionals. Recommendations
are made to mitigate the suffering of patients by empowering them through better
information and acknowledgement of their condition. The balance between nutrition
and wellbeing is re-examined, calling for a reorientation of perspective from a focus
on intake towards a focus on quality of life.
This clearly falls within the nurse-as patient-advocate paradigm and the relevance and
meaning of this research to the nursing profession is explored. Potential areas for further
research in regards to both patient experience and nursing practice are extrapolated.