In their voices: Kenyan women’s experiences with cancer treatment-related side effects

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Objective This paper reports on a secondary analysis of a qualitative study conducted in Nairobi, Kenya which reported several initial themes. In this paper, the authors explore the theme of treatment-related side effect management by women receiving treatment for breast or cervical cancer.

Methods Women were interviewed at three points during their active treatment trajectory. Participants were purposefully selected and saturation was reached when interviews did not yield any new themes. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for internal consistency, frequency, extensiveness, intensity and specificity. The Nvivo pro 12 software was used in organizing and managing the data to facilitate analysis.

Results Eighteen women were interviewed. Major side effects reported by participants included fatigue, alopecia, skin and nail changes as well as nausea and vomiting. Women who received information prior to treatment were more comfortable managing side effects. Participants described the impact of side effects on their daily life, body image, and many sought comfort through faith. Some women provided suggestions on strategies for patient education.

Conclusions This study attempted to capture the cancer treatment-related experiences of Kenyan women in their own voices and present strategies for future intervention and research. The care of individuals receiving treatment can be enhanced through the advancement of health human resources, the development of nationally accessible patient education materials and research on regionally relevant strategies to manage cancer treatment-related side effects.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing