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Hall ET, Sridhar D, Singhal S, Fardeen T, Lahijani S, Trivedi R, Gray C, Schapira L. Perceptions of time spent pursuing cancer care among patients, caregivers, and oncology professionals. Supportive Care in Cancer : Official Journal of The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer. 2021 May 1; 29(5):2493-2500.
PURPOSE: Patients with cancer spend significant time receiving treatment and recovering from side effects. Little is known about how patients and their caregivers perceive time spent receiving cancer treatment and how this impacts health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Our study aims to characterize perceptions of time invested in receiving cancer therapy as experienced by patients, caregivers, and oncology professionals. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with patients undergoing treatment for advanced lung cancer and melanoma, their informal caregivers, and oncology professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains). Participants received and provided care at a tertiary cancer center. Interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed qualitatively using predominantly inductive coding to identify themes relating to time perception and cancer care. RESULTS: We interviewed 29 participants (11 patients, 7 informal caregivers, and 11 oncology professionals) and found they consistently differentiated between time remaining in life ("existential time") and time required to manage cancer treatment and symptoms ("chronological time"). Patients and caregivers reported distress around the mechanics of oncologic care that interrupted their daily lives (hobbies, activities). Participants described the impact of time invested in cancer care on dimensions of quality of life, ranging from minimal to substantial negative impact. CONCLUSIONS: We found that the time spent undergoing cancer treatment affects well-being and often prevents patients and caregivers from participating in meaningful activities. The investment of personal time undergoing cancer therapy for patients with advanced solid tumors merits further study and can enhance communication between patients, caregivers, and their oncologists.