Losing Health Symbols Because of Nutrition-Related Problems in Advanced Cancer: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Cancer and nutrition-related problems are extremely distressing events and disturb functioning and daily life. It is recognized that the effects of stressors challenging well-being are mediated by the meaning attached to these stressors. As nutrition-related problems are often being experienced within couples, it is also important to gain understanding of a partner's interpretation of complaints and whether it coincides with that of the patient.To explore the meaning attached to nutrition-related problems, a qualitative approach was followed. Seven couples, each composed of a patient with cancer and his/her cohabiting life partner, participated. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and analyzed by an interpretative phenomenological approach.Nutrition-related problems among patients with advanced cancer are mostly perceived as destroying health and leading to loss of physical, psychological, and social health symbols. Because the meaning patients and their partners attach to nutrition-related problems is individual and dynamic, it is necessary to devote special attention to the issues on different occasions.The study findings can assist nurses and other professional caregivers in providing psychological support for couples confronted with nutrition-related problems in advanced cancer. It is important to take into account the meaning patients and partners attach to these nutrition-related problems.