The meaning of quality of life in cancer survivorship.

K. H. Dow, B. R. Ferrell, M. R. Haberman, L. Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To describe the meaning of quality of life (QOL) in long-term cancer survivors, to validate inductively derived QOL themes, and to identify and cluster over-arching themes across long-term cancer survivors. DESIGN: Qualitative study that was part of a larger, cross-sectional survey. SETTING/SAMPLE: 687 (57% response) cancer survivors at an average of 6.7 years after diagnosis. In the sample, 81% were female (with a mean age of 49.6 years), 72% were college educated, 63% were married, and 49% worked full time. METHODS: Mailed survey of three open-ended questions and standard QOL tools. A QOL conceptual model was used to frame the research study, describe the QOL responses of the participants, and explore the meaning of cancer survivorship. Content analysis was used to answer the research questions. Data collection and analysis occurred sequentially. MAIN RESEARCH CONCEPTS: Meaning, QOL cancer survivorship. FINDINGS: 25 of 30 inductively derived QOL themes were validated in this study of long-term cancer survivors; 107 additional QOL themes were identified and clustered into 11 over-arching themes across the entire data set. Over-arching themes included struggle between independence-dependence, balance, wholeness, life purpose, reclaiming life, multiple losses, having control, altered meaning of health, and surviving cancer from a family perspective. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: The meaning of QOL in long-term cancer survivors is multifaceted and complex. CONCLUSIONS: Nurses can use this broader conception of QOL in breast cancer survivors to help patients prepare for and cope with adjustments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
JournalOncology nursing forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


Dive into the research topics of 'The meaning of quality of life in cancer survivorship.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this