Triggers of distress during chemotherapy among cancer survivors from two tertiary hospitals in Kenya

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Background: Chemotherapy for many types of cancers improves outcomes. On the other hand, chemotherapy is associated with various side effects that can trigger distress affecting the quality-of-life of patients. Better understanding of causes of patients’ distress and experience during chemotherapy is a precursor for comprehensive cancer care.

Study objective: To explore the triggers of distress during chemotherapy among cancer survivors from two tertiary hospitals in Kenya

Design: This was a qualitative design study applying an interview guide. Methodology :An in-depth interview was conducted on those who had received and completed chemotherapy not more than 12 months previously at the time of assessment. A total of 30 people consisting of 15 participants from each hospital were recruited during follow-up clinics. Transcription was done using pen and paper and coding and qualitative thematic analysis was done using NVivo software.

Results: The age range was 18 to 68 years with majority aged between 31 and 43 years. The most prevalent cancer types were breast at 50% and cervical at 23%. Out of the 30 studied; majority had received chemotherapy as neo-adjuvant therapy. 50% had received 8 cycles of chemotherapy, 37% received 6 cycles and 13% received 4 cycles or less. Five themes identified as triggers of distress were; financial, emotional, social, physical problems and health- services related triggers which included poor patient- provider communication and shortage of drugs. Conclusion: Patients on chemotherapy do encounter multiple problems during chemotherapy and there is need for psychosocial interventions commenced at the initial phase of treatment.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.