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Exploring the adverse effects of chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of cervical and ovarian cancer from the patients’ perspective: a content analysis of the online discussion forums
  1. Sulaf Assi1,
  2. Megan Barling2,
  3. Abdullah Al-Hamid3,
  4. Ejaz Cheema3
  1. 1Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
  2. 2Bournemouth University, Poole, Dorset, UK
  3. 3School of Pharmacy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ejaz Cheema, School of Pharmacy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK; E.Cheema{at}bham.ac.uk

Abstract

Objectives This study aimed to explore the adverse effects of chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of ovarian and cervical cancer by analysing patients’ views posted in online discussion forums.

Method UK-centred online discussion forums were used to identify discussion threads on ovarian and cervical cancer between 2008 and 2017. The study was approved by the University of Bournemouth ethics committee. 272 discussion threads with 644 participants from four online discussion forums (Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, Ovacome and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust) were identified. The threads were exported into NVivo and a thematic content analysis was conducted to identify study themes.

Results Of the 644 participants, 19.4% had a diagnosis of cervical cancer and 80.6% had a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Four main themes related to: (1) treatment plan, (2) adverse effects, (3) perception of treatment and (4) hospitalisation were identified. Patients’ perceptions about their treatment were reported to be positive across all chemotherapeutic agents. 312 adverse effects were reported by patients with cervical cancer taking cisplatin, with fatigue (52.1%) and nausea (30.6%) being the two most frequently reported adverse effects. With regard to the treatment of ovarian cancer, 402 adverse effects were reported by patients on carboplatin and paclitaxel, with neuropathy (29.3%) and fatigue (28.0%) being the two most commonly reported adverse effects.

Conclusion The online discussion forums allowed patients to express their concerns in a blame-free environment that provided novel insight into the impact of chemotherapy-associated adverse effects on patients with cervical and ovarian cancers. Real-life experiences shared by patients can help the healthcare professionals to find the right balance between prolonged survival and quality of life.

  • clinical pharmacy
  • oncology
  • adult oncology
  • adverse effects
  • hospital pharmacy education
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