The experience of acute leukaemia in adult patients: A qualitative thematic synthesis

Constantina Papadopoulou, Bridget Johnston, Markus Themessl-Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: The aim of this review was to systematically identify and synthesise all qualitative evidence on how adult patients diagnosed with acute leukaemia experience living with their illness.

METHODS: A systematic search strategy was developed comprising of two search strings: i) acute leukaemia and ii) qualitative methodology. The search strategy was run in seven electronic databases (Medline, CINAHL, PsychINFO, EMBASE, BNI & Archive, SSCI and ASSIA). Nine qualitative studies in adult patients with acute leukaemia, published in peer reviewed journals between 01/1990 and 01/2013 were included in the final sample.

RESULTS: The qualitative thematic synthesis resulted in the development of a conceptual model describing a person's path to build a renewed self. Following the initial blow of diagnosis with the range of initial reactions, patients with acute leukaemia are living in a contracting world; they have to deal with the life in hospital, the several losses and the impact of their illness on their emotions and interpersonal relationships. Several factors take up a buffering role at that stage: coping, support, information and hope. Finally, patients accommodate acute leukaemia in their lives through re-evaluating personal values and assigning new meaning to their experience.

CONCLUSIONS: Results from this thematic synthesis are indicative of the impact of acute leukaemia on patients' lives and the processes they use to make sense and accommodate the illness in their life. Increasing our understanding of these processes is warranted to improve patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-648
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute Disease
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United Kingdom
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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