The role of social context in symptom appraisal and help-seeking among people with lung or colorectal symptoms: A qualitative interview study

C. Dobson*, A. Russell, Sally Brown, G. Rubin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prolonged diagnostic intervals are associated with poorer outcomes, and the patient interval appears to be a substantial contributor to the overall length of the diagnostic interval. This study sought to understand how the broader context of people's lives influenced symptom appraisal and help-seeking, comparing experiences by length of the patient interval. Patients referred with a suspicion of lung or colorectal cancer were invited to complete a questionnaire about their symptoms, with 26 respondents purposively sampled to take part in a semi-structured interview about their patient intervals. Embodied experience, appraisal, help-seeking decision-making and consultation were identified as component stages of the patient interval, with the factors affecting movement between these stages located in one of four contextual domains: individual experience, interpersonal relationships, healthcare system interactions and social and temporal context. The length of the patient interval was related to the type of symptom(s) experienced, discussion of symptoms with others and the social responsibilities people held during symptomatic periods. A contextual model of the patient interval illustrates the stages and domains of this interval, as grounded in the data from this study. The model has potential application to future studies examining the patient interval for a range of symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12815
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Volume27
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Keywords

  • cancer
  • diagnostic interval
  • help-seeking
  • patient interval
  • symptom appraisal

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