Sword of Damocles Cutting Through the Life Stages of Women With Ovarian Cancer

Sandra K. Cesario

Leslie S. Nelson

Anita Broxson

Anastasia L. Cesario

ovarian neoplasms
ONF 2010, 37(5), 609-617. DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.609-617

Purpose/Objectives: To identify the most prevalent worries and fears of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Research Approach: Online survey design was used to elicit qualitative data. Examination of worry was a single question extracted from a broader investigation.

Setting: A "virtual interview" enabled women from 12 countries and 44 states to participate in this study.

Participants: 360 English-speaking women aged 19-82 years with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Ninety-one percent of the women were partnered, were Caucasian, and had received at least some college education. The sample was equally stratified on income, geographic location (rural versus urban), and distance to healthcare services.

Methodologic Approach: A descriptive survey was used to investigate "worry" among women with ovarian cancer. Colaizzi's qualitative method was used to analyze the narrative responses.

Main Research Variables: Worries and fears of women with ovarian cancer stratified by age and development stage.

Findings: Consistent with previously published studies, worry about recurrence and fear of death were expressed by most women, regardless of age, ethnicity, or stage of life. Other worries expressed by study participants varied by age and development and were found to correlate with the last three stages of life as described in Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development.

Conclusions: Age and development stage are key determinants of the needs and concerns of women with ovarian cancer.

Interpretation: Age and development stage should be considered when developing an individualized plan of care. Because recurrence is common among this population, the fear of death exists regardless of age and should be explored by nurses, particularly during periods of remission.

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