Experiences prior to diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a phenomenological study

J Adv Nurs. 2011 Nov;67(11):2363-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05657.x. Epub 2011 Apr 26.


Aim: This paper is a report of a study identifying and describing the essences of patients' experience during the period leading up to the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Background: Patient and doctor delays occur during diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and families can affect patients' help-seeking behaviours. Current guidelines state the need for immediate referral of patients with suspected non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms.

Methods: A phenomenological approach was used. A purposive sample of 31 patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma was recruited through a hospital and a support group in the United Kingdom. In-depth interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and then analysed using Colaizzi's method. Data collection took place over an 18-month period during 2003-2005 and data analysis was completed in 2006.

Findings: The overriding theme was: Creating a pathway towards hearing the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The three themes were as follows: Perceiving individual health and onward movement; Penetrating communication processes and investigations; Advancing towards focusing on the non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. Patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma can have a diverse symptom presentation over long periods of time. Their help-seeking behaviours are an interplay of essences, including symptom type, attributions and emotional responses. Patients need tailored information to deal with the uncertainty of their situation at key points during their prediagnosis journey.

Conclusion: Nurses should help patients identify and acquire the appropriate information at key points during the diagnosis period as this is a period of great uncertainty. Further research should be conducted into the quality of prediagnosis consultations and the extent to which patients think that their agendums have been met at this time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Delayed Diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / nursing
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Referral and Consultation / standards
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Uncertainty
  • United Kingdom