BACKGROUND: Cancer is recognized as a family illness as many head and neck cancer (HNC) patients after treatment require assistance from a family caregiver throughout the rest of their life. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of primary family caregivers of HNC patients dealing with laryngectomy regarding their complex supportive role. METHODS: Phenomenological study based on individual interviews of twelve primary caregivers of HNC patients, recruited by purposeful sampling. Interview contents were analyzed in depth, in accordance with Colaizzi's descriptive analysis framework, to explore and identify significant themes and subthemes. RESULTS: Analysis evidenced three main topics and subthemes embracing various aspects of the caregiver's lived experiences: (1) experiencing disease and the pathway of care, (2) handling changes to everyday life, and (3) support received by others. CONCLUSION: Given the essential role the caregiver has in the patient's post-treatment recovery, future planning of HNC patient care must consider the caregivers' needs. In order to guarantee an appropriate and effective health professional care, it is important to consider caregivers' issues and needs as part of HNC patient care planning from the diagnosis to the follow-up.
- Head and neck cancer
- Life experience