Haematological cancer patients: achieving a sense of empowerment by use of strategies to control illness

Caroline Bulsara, A.M. Ward, D. Joske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The role that empowerment plays through involving haematological cancer patients and their families in their treatment and care is undeniable. It encompasses the implementation of various strategies to achieve a sense of empowerment.Aims and objectives. This phenomenological study sought to identify core strategies used by cancer patients regardless of their illness stage and prognosis who exhibited a strong sense of empowerment in coping with their condition.Design. A phenomenological approach using an in depth interviewing technique was used to identify the common factors which patients and spouses believed could enable them to achieve a measure of control in managing their illness. These measures were referred to as coping strategies.Methods. It was decided to conduct a purposive study and re-interview seven of 12 patients who had previously participated in a pilot Haematology Shared Care project and who had developed a high level of ability in coping with their illness. At the patient's discretion, spouses were invited to participate and to contribute to the interview. Three spouses participated in the interviewing process.Results. Common strategies emerged regardless of the patient's stage of illness and prognosis. Informants identified the determination to remain in control of the illness and treatment side effects, having the support of family and significant others, illness acceptance and maintaining hope as crucial to their sense of empowerment.Relevance to clinical practice. It is hoped that clinicians will gain a deeper understanding of the varied and numerous strategies used by cancer patients in coping with their illness. This understanding will ensure that by encouraging these strategies, patients and their families will be supported by health professionals to achieve a greater sense of empowerment. As this and other studies have shown, working alongside health professionals contributes to empowerment for both the cancer patient and significant others in their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-258
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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