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Adjustment to “new normal” after cancer among non–small cell lung cancer survivors: A qualitative study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 December 2023

Genehee Lee
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Clinical Research Design and Evaluation, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Soo Yeon Kim
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Research Design and Evaluation, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea Center for Clinical Epidemiology, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Alice Ahn
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Philosophy, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA
Sunga Kong
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Clinical Research Design and Evaluation, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Heesu Nam
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Operation, SK Bioscience, Sungnam, Republic of Korea
Danbee Kang
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Clinical Research Design and Evaluation, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea Center for Clinical Epidemiology, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Hong Kwan Kim
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Young Mog Shim
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Ansuk Jeong
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA
Dong Wook Shin*
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Family Medicine/Supportive Cancer Center, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Digital Health, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Juhee Cho*
Affiliation:
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Department of Clinical Research Design and Evaluation, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea Center for Clinical Epidemiology, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea Departments of Health, Behavior, and Society and Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
*
Corresponding author: Dong Wook Shin; Email: dwshin.md@gmail.com; Juhee Cho; Email: jcho@skku.edu
Corresponding author: Dong Wook Shin; Email: dwshin.md@gmail.com; Juhee Cho; Email: jcho@skku.edu

Abstract

Objectives

Cancer is a life-changing experience, and side effects from treatment can make it difficult for survivors to return to their pre-cancer “normal life.” We explored the “new normal” and barriers to achieving it among lung cancer survivors who underwent surgery.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 recurrence-free non–small cell lung cancer survivors. We asked survivors how life had changed; how they defined the “new normal”; barriers that prevent them from achieving a “normal” life; and unmet needs or support for normalcy. Thematic analysis was performed.

Results

Defining “new normal” subjectively depends on an individual’s expectation of recovery: (1) being able to do what they want without pain or discomfort; (2) being able to do activities they could accomplish before their surgery; and (3) being able to work, earn money, and support their family. We found that (1) persistent symptoms, (2) fear of cancer recurrence, (3) high expectations in recovery, and (4) psychosocial stress and guilty feelings were barriers to achieving a “new normal.” The needs and support for normalcy were information on expected trajectories, postoperative management, and support from family and society.

Significance of results

Survivors defined the “new normal” differently, depending on their expectations for recovery. Informing survivors about the “new normal” so they could expect possible changes and set realistic goals for their life after cancer. Health professionals need to communicate with survivors about expectations for “normality” from the beginning of treatment, and it should be included in comprehensive survivorship care.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.

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