Listening to the voice of patients with head and neck cancer: A systematic review and meta-synthesis

Marta Qualizza, Valentina Bressan, Antonio Rizzuto, Simone Stevanin, Giampiera Bulfone, Lucia Cadorin, Luca Ghirotto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The aim was to conduct a systematic review and a meta-synthesis of primary qualitative studies exploring experiences of head and neck cancer patients (HNC) undergoing radio and/or chemotherapy, in order to provide a better understanding of this phenomenon and supply new directions for care and clinical practice. Six databases were systematically searched, and 13 studies were included. The meta-synthesis methodology was adopted to conceptualise the way in which patients lived their cancer journey and the impact of treatments on their daily life. Four themes embracing various aspects of HNC patients' experiences were identified: (a) self-body image and perceived quality of life; (b) experiences and treatment of symptoms; (c) cancer journey; and (d) the relationship with health professionals. The finding demonstrates the importance of acknowledging that treatment sequelae and patients' daily issues do not appear, develop and affect people's lives in isolation and should be considered and analysed as a whole within the social and cultural context of patients' lives. Further research is needed to explore the treatment experience of HNC patients throughout their cancer journey with a more holistic approach that involves health professionals, caregivers and other family members and peers in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e12939
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Oct 4 2018


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