Aloneness: the lived experience of women with cancer of the vulva.

H Jefferies, Collette Clifford

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27 Citations (Scopus)


JEFFERIES H. & CLIFFORD C. (2011) European Journal of Cancer Care Aloneness: the lived experience of women with cancer of the vulva Cancer of the vulva is a rare condition that has been subject to limited research with a paucity of studies into the impact of this disease. Although the physical effects may readily be described, little is known about the psychological, emotional and social impact of this condition. To increase insights, a qualitative research study was undertaken to explore the experiences of women with vulval cancer living in the UK. An interpretive phenomenological approach based on the work of Heidegger and Van Manen was used to frame the study in which 13 women under 50 years of age were interviewed between 6 months and 5 years after their surgery. Data were analysed using framework analysis described by Ritchie and Spencer. This article describes the concept of aloneness which emerged from the data. This includes consideration of the women's sense of isolation due to the geographical distance between the woman's home and the hospital, and a sense of separation as they described their loss of sexual function and ability to enjoy the sexual relationship they had previously, following the onset of their symptoms of vulval cancer and subsequent treatment. The women's sense of aloneness was also manifest in their perception that there was a lack of knowledge and understanding about this condition both in their social world and the healthcare system in which they received treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of cancer care
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2011


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