The hematology cancer patient experience of “facing death” in the last year of life: a constructivist grounded theory study

Karen Campbell*, Fiona Harris, Kathleen Stoddart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background:
For hematology cancer patients, the process of dying is described as “troublesome.” Qualitative studies have focused on views of healthcare professionals and caregiver stakeholders. To date, there have been no studies from the patient’s perspective on facing death while in the last year of life.

Objective:
The aim of this study was to develop an understanding of the hematology cancer patient’s experience of the process of dying in the last year of life.

Methods:
The study method was constructivist grounded theory using semistructured interviews, a constant comparison technique, and memoing to collection and analysis of data. The 21 participants were attending a UK cancer center, a cancer unit, or a hospice.

Results:
This article describes 1 core category within the incurable hematology cancer illness trajectory through 4 subcategories: transitional phase, chronic phase, dying phase, and liminal phase.

Conclusion:
This unique study
illustrates that, although life can be prolonged, “facing death” still occurs upon hospitalization and relapse regularly over the illness trajectory.

Implications for Practice:
It is important that clinical practice acknowledges those participants in an incurable illness trajectory while living are focused on avoiding death rather than the ability to cure the disease. Services need to be responsive to the ambiguity of both living and dying by providing holistic management simultaneously, especially after critical episodes of care, to enhance the process of care in the last year of life, and assessment should incorporate the discussion of experiencing life-threatening events.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Nursing
Early online date19 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • death
  • dying
  • grounded theory
  • hematology cancer
  • last year of life

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