Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 963–971 | Cite as

How to summarise and report written qualitative data from patients: a method for use in cancer support care

  • Marie J. PolleyEmail author
  • Helen E. Seers
  • Helen J. Cooke
  • Caroline Hoffman
  • Charlotte Paterson
Original Article


Goals of work

The goal of this study is the determination of key themes to aid the analysis of qualitative data collected at three cancer support centres in England, using the Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCaW) questionnaire.

Patients and methods

People with cancer who use complementary therapies experience and value a wide range of treatment effects, yet tools are urgently required to quantitatively measure these outcomes. MYCaW is an individualised questionnaire used in cancer support centres providing complementary therapies, scoring ‘concerns or problems’ and ‘well-being’ and collecting qualitative data about other major events in a patient’s life and what has been most important to the patient. Content analysis on 782 MYCaW questionnaires from people at these cancer support centres was carried out. The ‘concerns,’ ‘other things going on in their life’ and ‘important aspects of centre’ were thematically categorised and externally validated by a focus group, and the inter-rater reliability was calculated.

Main results

Clinical information from a cancer patient’s perspective was collected that is not measured on standard quality-of-life questionnaires; furthermore, some themes acknowledge the multi-faceted aspects of complementary and alternative medicine provision, rather than information only relating to the therapeutic intervention. Categories for qualitative MYCaW analysis have been established providing a tool for future research and/or service delivery improvement within cancer support centres such as these.


The established themes provide a framework to aid analysis of qualitative aspects of complementary therapy care for people with cancer, improving our understanding of how the patient’s cancer experience can be aided by complementary therapies in specialised cancer centres.


Cancer Complementary therapies MYCaW Qualitative analysis Outcome measures 



The authors kindly thank Glaxo SmithKline for a £20,000 grant received by the corresponding author whilst they were working for Breast Cancer Haven. The rest of the work has been funded through the University of Westminster Research Development Fund and Penny Brohn Cancer Care. The authors would like to thank all the visitors, volunteers and staff at BCH and PBCC who contributed to this study. Lastly, the authors would like to thank the members of the focus group that met on 5th September 2006 at PBCC along with Pat Turton who facilitated the event.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie J. Polley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helen E. Seers
    • 2
  • Helen J. Cooke
    • 2
  • Caroline Hoffman
    • 3
  • Charlotte Paterson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Complementary TherapiesUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  2. 2.Penny Brohn Cancer CarePill BristolUK
  3. 3.Breast Cancer HavenLondonUK
  4. 4.Institute of Health and Social Care ResearchPeninsula Medical SchoolExeterUK

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