'Chemobrain': Concentration and memory effects in people receiving chemotherapy – a descriptive phenomenological study
Mitchell, T. and Turton, P. (2011) 'Chemobrain': Concentration and memory effects in people receiving chemotherapy – a descriptive phenomenological study. European Journal of Cancer Care, 20 (4). pp. 539-548. ISSN 1365-2354
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2354.2011.01244.x
There is an international literature which claims that there is a link between chemotherapeutic agents and cognitive impairment. Deficits in concentration and memory can have a major impact on decision making about education and careers, and on general quality of life. The literature to date is generally anecdotal, or reports on quantitative research that does not address patients’ interpretations of impaired cognition. It was the intention of this study to capture experiences and perceptions of cognitive impairment as told by people receiving chemotherapy. A descriptive phenomenological approach was employed and four participants were interviewed twice. Analysis was conducted using Nvivo software alongside Hycner’s analysis framework so that researchers could produce narratives to represent experiences for each case. The description for each case illuminates uniqueness and commonality. ‘Chemobrain’ is a significant and important issue for many patients but they are often unaware, prior to chemotherapy, that cognition may be affected. There is no shared understanding between patients and healthcare professionals and there is a lack of information about the phenomena which disempower patients. Healthcare professionals should develop knowledge and skills to recognise and address chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment.