Background: Awareness of disease status has been identified as a factor in the treatment decision-making process. Women with recurrent ovarian cancer are facing the challenge of making treatment decisions throughout the disease trajectory. It is not understood how women with ovarian cancer perceive their disease and subsequently make treatment decisions. Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experience of women with recurrent ovarian cancer, how they understood their disease and made their treatment decisions. Methods: A qualitative design with a descriptive phenomenological method was used to conduct 2 in-depth interviews with 12 women (n = 24 interviews). Each interview was ∼60 minutes and was digitally recorded and professionally transcribed. Data collection focused on patients' understanding of their disease and how patients participated in treatment decisions. A modified version of Colaizzi's method of phenomenological reduction guided data analysis. Results: Three themes emerged to describe the phenomenon of being aware of disease status: (1) perceiving recurrent ovarian cancer as a chronic illness, (2) perceived inability to make treatment decisions, and (3) enduring emotional distress. Conclusions and Implications: This study revealed how 12 women conceptualized recurrent ovarian cancer as a chronic disease and their perceived inability to make treatment decisions because of lack of information and professional qualifications, resulting in enduring emotional distress. Future research should replicate the study to confirm the persistence of the themes for racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse patient samples and to improve understanding of awareness of disease status and decision-making processes of patients.
- disease status
- ovarian cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine