Perception, Attitudes, Preparedness and Experience of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia among Breast Cancer Patients: a Qualitative Study


Objectives: Regardless of its negative impact on quality of life, little is known about the importance ofalopecia from the patients’ perspective. This study aimed to explore the whole experience of chemotherapyinducedalopecia among Korean breast cancer patients including perception, attitudes, preparedness,and changes after alopecia.
Methods: Patients expected to experience or had experienced alopecia wererecruited at a tertiary hospital in Seoul, Korea. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were performed in 21patients. Recurrent issues were identified and placed into thematic categories.
Results: All patients thinkthat appearance is important and they pay attention to how they look like. They had negative perceptionsabout alopecia. Patients were not well prepared for alopecia, and experienced substantial physical,psychological and social distress. Lack of information and limited social support combined with negativeimages of cancer made it difficult for patients to overcome the trauma and deterred them from usual dailyactivities resulting in poor quality of life.
Conclusions: Patients were not well prepared for alopecia andnegative perceptions, lack of preparedness, and limited social support and resources increased alopeciarelateddistress. Educational programs for preparing patients to cope with alopecia distress and advocateactivities to change people’s negative perception about alopecia are needed to reduce the burden imposedby alopecia in cancer patients.