Supportive self-care strategies during chemotherapy treatment: A longitudinal exploration of the experiences of patients with breast or colorectal cancer.

Catherine Paterson

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstractpeer-review


Background: The Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS) is a mobile phone based system to remotely monitor and manage the toxicities of cancer treatment in the home care setting. ASyMS is being evaluated in a three-phase, multi-site complex intervention study, with a before and after study design. The study is exploring the impact of ASyMS on care delivered to people with breast/colorectal cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. The shift of chemotherapy administration into the ambulatory setting requires patients to engage in self-care activities to prevent or reduce the severity of numerous and possible complex side effects. Phase I of the study is now complete. This paper will present the experiences of patients interviewed longitudinally throughout Phase I in relation to the supportive self-care behaviours and strategies they engaged in during their chemotherapy treatment.

Material and Methods: A total of 141 patients were recruited to Phase I. Of these 141 patients, 23 individuals from across all eight study sites participated in up to seven longitudinal semi-structured interviews each over the course of their entire chemotherapy treatment. The symptom experiences of patients, the role of supportive self-care behaviours and self-care strategies to manage these symptoms, and patients' experiences and perceptions of their care pathways, were explored longitudinally in all patient interviews.

Results: Patients discussed the importance of self-care in the context of their chemotherapy-related symptom experiences. Patients' indicated that adopted self-care behaviours and strategies tended to be triadic in nature: information was provided by health care professional staff, independently sourced from alternative sources, or informed by previous experiential knowledge. For many patients, there were notable changes in the extent to which adopted self-care strategies were embedded in their day-to-day and cycle-by-cycle symptom experiences over the course of their chemotherapy treatment. Often patients elected to self-manage their symptoms at home, rather than report them to health care professional staff.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that patients commonly adopt supportive self-care strategies to manage their chemotherapy-related symptoms whilst at home. As patients' chemotherapy treatment progressed, experiential self-care knowledge was equally important in the management of these symptoms as advice from health care professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventECCO 17: The European Cancer Congress 2013 -
Duration: 27 Sept 20131 Oct 2013


ConferenceECCO 17: The European Cancer Congress 2013
Abbreviated titleECCO
Internet address


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