Coping with an altered mouth and perceived supportive care needs following head and neck cancer treatment

K. A. Pateman, P. J. Ford, M. D. Batstone, C. S. Farah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Oral health is essential to general health and well-being and is severely impacted by head and neck cancer (HNC) and its treatment. This study aimed to describe how people who have been treated for HNC cope with altered oral health and function and to identify their supportive care needs. Methods: A qualitative, descriptive approach was used. Data was collected from individual interviews with six participants 6 months after treatment. Data analysis was performed by qualitative content analysis involving inductive and directed approaches. Directed content analysis was guided by the Stress, Appraisal and Coping Model. Results: Three themes describing changed oral health were identified from the data: dimensions of eating, maintaining oral health after treatment and adapting to the chronic side effects of treatment. A strong use of problem-focussed coping was described, in addition to the importance of peer support in adapting to the psychosocial outcomes of treatment. Support needs identified related to increased access to specialist dental oncology services post treatment, information needs and a need for more psychological support. Conclusion: The study findings describe the experience of a sample of people who have received treatment for HNC. Due to a demographically homogenous sample and the strong use of positive coping strategies, the results presented may not describe the experience of the wider HNC population; however, these results provide insight into factors that may influence positive coping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2365-2373
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


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