The Lived Experience of an Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: A Qualitative Study

Tuesday, July 12, 2011: 1:45 PM

Jessica Driscoll, ANP-BC, MSN
Department of Bone Marrow Transplant, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to appreciate the nursing role in caring for patients undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to name the six themes identifed by patients undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experience of patients undergoing an autologous HSCT. 

Methods: This was a qualitative phenomenological study.  Four patients in an outpatient hematology/oncology clinic were invited to participate in an interview to reflect on their experiences an HSCT recipient.  The participants were targeted six to twelve months post transplant to allow time for reflection and attribution of meaning of this experience in their own lives. The use of the open-ended question, “Please describe your experience as an autologous HSCT recipient” allowed participants to expand on issues of importance to them. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed by the nurse researchers.  They were analyzed using hermeneutic phenomenology as described by van Manen (1997) in order to more fully understand their experiences.

Results: Analysis of the four interviews revealed a number of themes.  The six major themes that emerged are: (1) worry and fear; (2) trusting and relationship building with caregivers; (3) isolation and contemplation; (4) significant life changes; (5) new identity based on self-reflection; and (6) challenges and coping.

Conclusion: The objective of this study was to explore the phenomenon of experiencing an autologous HSCT and gain insight for nursing practice.  The interviews revealed that while each participant has a unique experience with HSCT, elements of the experiences are shared.  The themes will help inform the understanding of and nursing care provided for this population in the future.