Scan-associated distress in people affected by cancer: A qualitative systematic review

M. Hussain, S. Chau, M. Turner, C. Paterson

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Objective: The term "scanxiety" has been coined to describe the anxiety commonly associated with individuals undergoing cancer-related imaging. Despite the prevalence and severity of scanxiety across various clinical and demographic populations, there remains a significant lack of qualitative insights from existing studies that effectively capture patients' experiences of scanxiety in their own words. Therefore, this review addresses the following research question: What are the experiences of scanxiety distress among people affected by cancer across the cancer care continuum? Data Sources: Following the PRISMA methodology, a meta-aggregation of qualitative studies was performed, encompassing patients of all age groups who had been diagnosed with cancer or were indicated for a cancer-related scan. Of the 556 articles screened, 15 were deemed eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Conclusion: The three overarching themes of 1) experience of “scan-itis,” 2) experience of “patient-clinician support,” and 3) development of self-management strategies reveal the complex and interconnected factors that influence scanxiety in individuals undergoing cancer-related imaging. These findings emphasized distress experienced by patients during the waiting period for scan results, the act of viewing the results, and even the delivery of “bad” news. Consequently, patients expressed a strong desire for increased information, communication, and empathy from attending healthcare providers. Patients also report a myriad of self-coping strategies to manage their scanxiety well before, during, and after their scan appointment. Implications for Nursing Practice: The study highlights the need for targeted interventions for those undergoing cancer-related scans, including increased awareness and education for health professionals regarding scanxiety.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number151502
    JournalSeminars in Oncology Nursing
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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