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Symptom representations and meaning-making in mothers with recurrent ovarian cancer: A mixed-methods investigation

Arida, Janet (2020) Symptom representations and meaning-making in mothers with recurrent ovarian cancer: A mixed-methods investigation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Mothers with advanced cancer face numerous challenges as they strive to meet the demands of parenting while facing the physical, emotional, and psychological tasks of navigating life with a potentially life-threatening illness. It remains unclear how parenting affects the cancer experience and how having cancer impacts one’s role as a mother.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to deepen our understanding of the experiences and coping efforts of mothers with recurrent ovarian cancer and to explore the ways in which these might be influenced by the parenting role.
Methods: Using a phenomenologically-informed thematic analysis combined with the quantitative method of group-based trajectory modeling, this mixed-methods ancillary study was conducted using data from mothers with advanced ovarian cancer who participated in an online symptom management intervention. Themes were identified through iterative coding of all participant data, and then revisited through the lenses of both parenting status and symptom burden trajectory.
Results: Data from a total of 174 participants was analyzed for the primary aim of characterizing the experience of mothers with advanced cancer. Through written message board exchanges with nurse interventionists and responses to open-ended questions, as well as journal entries, women described ways in which being diagnosed and living with advanced ovarian cancer had altered their experiences of themselves, their ability to meet the demands of mothering and other life roles, and their sense of their future and concerns about their families. The changes described reflect both terrifying but also clarifying aspects of a diagnosis of advanced cancer as well as the challenges inherent in juggling multiple life roles and responsibilities during advanced illness. Further analysis of themes expressed by participants revealed no meaningful differences by parenting status or by symptom severity patterns in themes expressed.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that mothers perceive their advanced cancer diagnoses as highly intertwined with their experiences of themselves as parents, and offer enhanced insight into the lives and needs of mothers with recurrent ovarian cancer that can serve as a foundation for the development of tailored interventions to meet their needs during the trajectory of advanced illness.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Arida, Janetjaa84@pitt.edujaa840000-0003-3188-3814
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDonovan, HSdonovanh@pitt.edudonovanh0000-0002-4889-8644
Committee MemberBoisen, Mmmb157@pitt.edummb157
Committee MemberLee, YJleeyoung@pitt.eduleeyoung0000-0001-6359-4721
Committee MemberRosenzweig, MQmros@pitt.edumros0000-0003-2276-9673
Committee MemberSereika, SMssereika@pitt.edussereika0000-0002-7840-1352
Date: 2 June 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 April 2020
Approval Date: 2 June 2020
Submission Date: 29 May 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 99
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Nursing > Nursing
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Recurrent ovarian cancer, mothering with cancer, parenting with cancer, meaning-making, symptom representations
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2020 18:08
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2020 18:08


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