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Adherence to adjuvant endocrine therapy among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of the qualitative literature using grounded theory

Alomeir, O., Patel, N. and Donyai, P. (2020) Adherence to adjuvant endocrine therapy among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of the qualitative literature using grounded theory. Supportive Care in Cancer. ISSN 0941-4355

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00520-020-05585-9

Abstract/Summary

Purpose: Numerous studies have examined non-adherence to adjuvant endocrine therapy in women recovering from breast cancer, but none provide a comprehensive theory to explain the challenges of long-term medication-taking and resilience needed to continue. The aim of this study was to source, appraise, and synthesise data from existing qualitative studies to develop an in-depth explanatory model of non-adherence and discontinuation of hormonal medication among breast cancer survivors. Methods: A comprehensive search of databases and the literature identified 24 eligible qualitative studies published 2010-2019. Quotations (n= 801) listed within these papers and the original author interpretations were synthesised using NVivo, and grounded theory methodology. Results: At the beginning, knowledge about adjuvant endocrine therapy, trust in doctors, and worries and expectations, mean agreeing to medication is the only viable option, akin to a Hobson’s choice. Thereafter, women’s ability to deal with medication side-effects, knowledge, and support received affect their decision to continue, akin to a horned dilemma where giving up the medication risks cancer recurrence, and continuing means reduced contentment. Women stopping medication altogether question treatment necessity, search for normalcy, and prioritise quality of life. Conclusion: Shared experiences and understandings were uncovered by examining commonalities in existing publications. The core category explained the difficulties women face with the initial decision to accept long-term endocrine therapy and then the everyday challenges of continuing or deciding to stop treatment early. An educational tool to inform survivors and health professionals about these challenges could potentially improve women’s experience on treatment and in turn their adherence.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Pharmacy Practice Research Group
ID Code:91278
Publisher:Springer

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