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Title: Understanding the experience of Pregnancy-Associated Breast Cancer (PABC) : an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Author: Rodsten, Janne Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 1177
Awarding Body: University of the West of England
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2017
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The psychological impact of breast cancer is well documented, but the experience of younger patients who are diagnosed whilst they are pregnant, is both physically and psychologically diverse from that of non-pregnant breast cancer patients, and this phenomenon has been little researched. Pregnancy-associated breast cancer (PABC) is rare but incidence rates are rising as women delay child-bearing. Currently, no guidelines to psychological management exist, and practitioners’ competence is challenged in this area. This unparalleled ‘insider’ study explores the experiences of women diagnosed with PABC, seeking to understand the features that make these unique to the condition, and to inform counselling psychology theory and practice. The qualitative methodology used was Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and data was collected from 11 semi-structured interviews. Participants were 32-44 years old and from the UK. Major themes arising were: (1) experiencing a clash of priority between baby’s life and mother’s life, versus mother feeling in alliance with baby, (2) having perceptions of being physically and emotionally saved by the pregnancy and baby, and (3) experiencing a loss of being a mother. This thesis argues that the experience of PABC involves distinct psychological challenges concerning: identity and behaviour as ‘new mother/patient’, maternal-infant attachment, coping and support, and impact on family life and relationships. Psychologists working in cancer care or perinatal care services will benefit from specialised education around PABC to proficiently help patients and families, and support healthcare professionals. For moderate to severe psychological presentations, findings suggest that emotion-focused, person-centred and cognitive behavioural therapies, including individual and family systemic approaches, are appropriate within a flexible structural format to accommodate illness and treatment effects, as well as parenting wishes and responsibilities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Couns.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: pregnancy-associated breast cancer ; phenomenology ; psycho-oncology ; gestational cancer ; pregnancy-related cancer