Exploring the physiotherapeutic needs of breast cancer patients: A qualitative study of patient experience

Mcclean, Karen Elizabeth (2013) Exploring the physiotherapeutic needs of breast cancer patients: A qualitative study of patient experience. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Background: It has been reported that patients should have access to physiotherapy at all stages throughout their treatment pathway following a diagnosis of breast cancer. As the number of breast cancer survivors increases the need for research into the impact of breast cancer and its treatment has been recognised as a priority for the NHS. It is acknowledged that breast cancer patients have specific support needs and if these remain unmet, this is likely to have implications for long term rehabilitation outcomes.

Aim: To explore the experience of physiotherapy care received by patients with breast cancer.

Research design: Based on an exploratory qualitative methodology design, participants (n=19) who had received physiotherapy care from a Specialist Breast Care Physiotherapy Service were stratified into one of three subgroups, dependant on their previous experience of physiotherapy. Phase One involved each subgroup taking part in a group discussion using a modified nominal group technique and in Phase Two one member of each subgroup who volunteered to take part was randomly selected to participate in a one-to-one in-depth interview. A thematic network analysis was undertaken on the data collected.
Research Ethics Committee Reference: 12/NW/0009
Salford Research and Development Number: 2011/266can
University of Central Lancashire Reference Number: BuSH 0413

Results: Participants valued a patient-centred holistic approach to care and access to a Specialist Service with an experienced clinician. In particular the importance of the therapeutic alliance and the value of psychological, emotional and educational support emerged, with the participants feeling empowered in their recovery.

Conclusion: Participants reported an overall positive experience of their physiotherapy care. Breast cancer patients require specialist physiotherapy input at all stages of their treatment pathway, including pre-operative intervention.

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