Psychosocial Reaction Patterns to Alopecia in Female Patients with Gynecological Cancer undergoing Chemotherapy


This study aims to clarify the psychosocial reactions of female patients with gynecological cancer undergoingchemotherapy and in the process of suffering from alopecia and to examine their nursing support. The targetgroup comprised female patients who had received two or more cycles of chemotherapy, were suffering fromalopecia, and were aged 30-65. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, conducted from the timethe patients were informed by their doctors that they might experience alopecia due to chemotherapy to thetime they actually experienced alopecia and until they were able to accept the change. Inductive qualitativeanalysis was employed to close in on the subjective experiences of the cancer patients. The results showed theexistence of six phases in the psychosocial reactions in the process of alopecia: phase one was the reaction afterthe doctor’s explanation; phase two was the reaction when the hair starts to fall out; phase three was the reactionwhen the hair starts to intensely fall out; phase four was the reaction when the hair has completely fallen out;phase five was the reaction to behavior for coping with alopecia; and phase six was the reaction to change ininterpersonal human relationships. The results also made it clear that there are five types of reaction patternsas follows: 1) treatment priority interpersonal relationship maintenance type; 2) alopecia agitated interpersonalrelationship maintenance type; 3) alopecia agitated interpersonal relationship reduction type; 4) alopecia denialinterpersonal relationship reduction type; and 5) alopecia denial treatment interruption type. It is important tofind out which of the five types the patients belong to early during treatment and provide support so that nursingintervention that suits each individual can be practiced. The purpose of this study is to make clear the processin which patients receiving chemotherapy come to accept alopecia and to examine evidence-based nursing careon patients with strong mental distress from alopecia.