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Chemo Brain - Research findings indicate the need for caution

Issue: Vol.10, No.3 - July 2011

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Article Type: Manuscript

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  1. Dr Pam McGrath

The article sets insights provided by haematology patients who have been through chemotherapy treatments on their attitudes, beliefs and experiences with regards to the notion of ‘chemo brain’ within the context of the available research literature on the topic. The qualitative methodology for the study involved open-ended exploration through in-depth interviews and a focus group. The data was audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, coded and thematically analysed. The findings highlight the need for caution with regards to asserting the conclusiveness of the notion of ‘chemo brain’ to haematology patients. This conclusion is reinforced by the evidence of confusion, inconclusiveness and lack of understanding of both the concept and causation presently noted in the literature. Honesty in information giving about the present doubts and inconsistencies with regards the notion of ‘chemo brain’ that are recognised in the literature can ensure that the term does not unnecessarily increase the anxieties of patients. Such informed discussion can be accompanied by a compassionate response to those experiencing cognitive difficulties that affirms, normalises and provides referrals to expert psychological assistance

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