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Recovering from Cystectomy: Patient Perspectives

Bladder cancer patients who undergo cystectomy and urinary diversion face functional and quality-of-life challenges. Little is known about these patients’ experiences during decision-making, surgery, and recovery, or how they vary by treatment setting. To learn about patients’ experiences with treatment choice, surgical care, and recovery across health settings. Understanding patient experiences is essential to closing care gaps and developing patient-reported measures. We conducted focus groups with cystectomy patients and family caregivers at a large comprehensive health care system (N = 32 patients) and an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center (N = 25 patients and 5 caregivers). Using standard qualitative methods, we identified themes that are not well-represented in existing research. Across both systems, patients described variable experiences in decision-making about their cystectomy and urinary diversion. Some felt overwhelmed by information; others felt poorly informed. Many found self-care equipment challenging; many felt they knew little about what to expect regarding chemotherapy, recovery, and transitioning home. At times, health care personnel could not help manage patients’ ostomies or catheterization equipment. Our study also contributes a grounded theoretical framework for describing meaningful domains of patient experience with cystectomy and urinary diversion. We identified a common trajectory that includes decision-making, surgery and post-operative recovery, mastery of self-care, and reintegration. Patients with radical cystectomy and urinary diversion report a wide variety of experiences not captured by quantitative measures. These findings demonstrate that many cystectomy patients could benefit from additional post-operative support. We offer a framework to measure patient-centered domains in future research.

Authors: McMullen CK; Kwan ML; Colwell JC; Munneke JR; Davis JV; Firemark A; Brooks N; Grant M; Gilbert SM; Altschuler A

Bladder Cancer. 2019 Jan 31;5(1):51-61. Epub 2019-01-31.

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