Writing between the lines: A secondary analysis of unsolicited narratives from cancer survivors regarding their fear of cancer recurrence

Jacqueline Galica, Stephanie Saunders, Kristen Haase, Christine Maheu


Background: Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a common concern for posttreatment cancer survivors. In this secondary analysis we explore cancer survivors’ unsolicited narratives on a survey about FCR.

Methods: We used an interpretive descriptive approach and statistical analyses to explore these narratives and determine the characteristics of survivors who did and did not provide narratives.

Findings: We developed three themes based on our analysis: describe posttreatment experiences; elaborate or contextualize FCR responses and use their voice toward change in cancer care. Those who provided narratives had lower overall FCR. Most narratives were used to provide context to responses or to indicate that some survey items were irrelevant. 

Conclusion: Our results highlight potential reasons for unsolicited narratives on a survey and illuminate the potential value of expressive interventions for cancer survivors. Results indicate the usefulness of mixed methods approaches where survey respondents are offered space to provide open text. 

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