Decay, transformation and growth: patients’ making sense of acute leukaemia

Constantina Papadopoulou, Bridget Johnston, Markus Themessl-Huber

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The impact of a haematological malignancy such as leukaemia on patients can be profound. So far there is a dearth of evidence regarding how adult patients with acute leukaemia make sense of this life changing experience. This qualitative study aimed to explore how adult patients make sense of their diagnosis of acute leukaemia. Guided by Smith’s Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach, an exploratory design was employed for the purposes of the study. Ten patients with acute leukaemia were recruited during a 14‐month period from two clinical sites in Central Scotland. A set of two serial, in‐depth interviews were conducted two to four weeks apart with participants within the first year of diagnosis or post‐relapse. Data analysis resulted in nine subordinate themes: leukaemia in disguise; world of emotions; embodiment of leukaemia; social world; a holiday in prison; coping; counting losses; the self; and assimilating leukaemia. These themes were subsequently organised under three superordinate themes/ processes. Participants in
this study made sense of their acute leukaemia by engaging in three processes: decay, transformation and growth. These
three processes occurred in a concurrent fashion with various manifestations. Findings indicate that acute leukaemia creates a state of imbalance to the person, which initiates a search for a new equilibrium. Results from this study can form the basis for the development of specific interventions for patients affected from leukaemia.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event19th Qualitative Health Research Conference - Halifax, Canada
Duration: 27 Oct 201329 Oct 2013


Conference19th Qualitative Health Research Conference
Abbreviated titleQHR 2013


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