Evid Based Nurs 7:126 doi:10.1136/ebn.7.4.126
  • Qualitative

Patients with colorectal cancer expressed a loss of adulthood related to a loss of professional and sexual identity, dignity, privacy, independence, and ability to socialise

 Q In patients with colorectal cancer, what is the effect of the illness and treatment on sense of adulthood in relation to self identity?


Qualitative study using illness narrative interviews.




39 patients (33–87 y, 51% men) who were 28–68 years of age at the time of diagnosis of colorectal cancer (any of Dukes stages of illness) were recruited using maximum variation sampling.


Indepth narrative interviews were done in patients’ homes for all but 3 patients, who were interviewed in a support group office. Patients were invited to tell their stories from the point at which they first suspected a problem and were then asked semistructured questions on several illness related issues. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed using the constant comparative method.


An overarching theme of loss of adulthood emerged. 4 subthemes were related to the effect of the illness on self identity.

Loss of professional identity …

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