Concerns, affect, and cognitive disruption following completion of radiation treatment for localized breast or prostate cancer.

B. L. Walker, L. M. Nail, L. Larsen, J. Magill, A. Schwartz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    40 Scopus citations


    PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To describe concerns, cognitive disruption, and affect following the completion of radiation treatment (RT) for localized breast or prostate cancer. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive. SETTING: Two RT centers associated with a university hospital. SAMPLE: Patients who completed RT for prostate (n = 9) or breast cancer (n = 11). The mean age of the sample is 64 years. Ninety percent are Caucasian, 80% are married, 50% are of Latter-day Saint faith, and 50% are retired. All had early stage disease, with a mean of 20 months post-RT. METHODS: One-time interview using qualitative methods and the Life Orientation Test, Revised Impact of Events Scale, state scale of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, satisfaction items of the Sarason Social Support Questionnaire, and Side Effect Severity Checklist. MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: Frequency of intrusive thoughts or avoidant behavior, positive and negative affect, dispositional optimism, satisfaction with social support, severity of side effects, and themes extracted from semistructured interviews. FINDINGS: Most subjects had unexpected intrusive thoughts about cancer; more than one-third avoided reminders of cancer. The level of positive affect was high, as was optimism. The level of negative affect was low. Subjects' satisfaction level with social support was high. Fatigue was the most frequently reported continuing side effect. Relative optimism, acceptance, vigilance, and trust of healthcare providers were major themes. Avoidance, comparison, maintaining normalcy, and information seeking were common coping strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Subjects perceived themselves to be doing well. Fatigue was the most common long-term side effect. Subjects continued to seek information. Symptom vigilance and interpretation were important, as were having a positive outlook and maintaining normalcy. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Nurses must acknowledge the potential for concerns about symptoms and continuing side effects and what they mean for the patient. Clinicians need to provide accurate information about common post-treatment experiences. Clinicians also must remember that subjects have vivid recollections of both positive and negative interactions with healthcare providers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1181-1187
    Number of pages7
    JournalOncology nursing forum
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Sep 1 1996


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oncology(nursing)

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