A Q methodology study to investigate the experiences of head and neck cancer patients from diagnosis to one year

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

External organisations

  • Department of Therapy Services, University Hospitals Birmingham NHSFT


The experiences of disease and treatment for patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer (H&NC) are known to be important indicators of the quality of care but are represented poorly in the literature. Survival is a major outcome measure to which health- related quality of life (HRQoL) adds detail but outcomes are not fully repre-sentative of the patients’ experiences because quality of care and reality of treatment are overlooked. This study explored the HRQoL, quality of care and reality of treat-ment themes using a mixed- methods approach, Q Methodology. In total, 18 partici-pants who were at least 12 months post- diagnosis rank- ordered 45 prepared statements to reflect their own experiences of H&NC. After the statements had been sorted, the participants reviewed the order in an interview to clarify experiences. The statements become a way of facilitating the discussion because the participant can explain the position of specific statements that are notable for them. The ranking was factor- analysed case- wise and five factors provided the best conceptual fit: meaning and attachment to illness; overwhelmed by the cancer; surviving or not; change and recovery; and keep control for the greater good of others. The findings suggest there are distinct ways that H&NC patients experience the disease and its treatment. The concept of the experience being different and defined for individuals has practical implications at a clinical level and is a way of ensuring care is truly patient- centred.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of cancer care
Early online date4 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2017


  • experiences, head and neck cancer, management, Q methodology, quality of life