Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 9–25

Qualitative research into the symptom experiences of adult cancer patients after treatments: a systematic review and meta-synthesis

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00520-012-1573-x

Cite this article as:
Bennion, A.E. & Molassiotis, A. Support Care Cancer (2013) 21: 9. doi:10.1007/s00520-012-1573-x



This review paper aimed to draw together the findings of qualitative research into the symptom experience of adult cancer patients in order to develop a better understanding of symptom experiences following cancer treatment.


Systematic review and meta-synthesis techniques were used to identify, appraise and synthesise the relevant literature.


A thematic account of shared symptom experiences reported across papers is presented. Four main themes are discussed: interaction with health services, changing relationships, changing self and coping. In addition the range of symptoms reported across qualitative cancer research is highlighted.


Unexpected symptoms can have negative effects on patients who need to be better prepared for long-term symptom experiences. In addition, it is important to acknowledge that patients’ symptom experiences do not happen in isolation and should be addressed holistically within the context of patients’ lives.



Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social WorkUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK