A Qualitative Approach to Psychological Determinant of the “patient Delay” for Head and Neck Cancers

  • C. Duthilleul
  • F. Vallet
  • J.L. Lefebvre
  • V. Christophe


Background: Reducing the time between the onset of the first symptoms of cancer and the first consultation with a doctor (patient delay) is essential to improve the vital prognosis and quality of life of patients. Understanding which factors mostly determine the patient delay seems to be essential for optimization of preventive messages in public health. The main objective of this qualitative study is to assess whether, in head and neck cancer, patient delay is linked to socio-cognitive and emotional factors, in addition to previously known factors. Methods: 15 semi-directive interviews of head and neck patient’s cancers were conducted to identify subjective perceptions concerning the symptoms and the medical appointment, and subjective perceptions of health, the disease and treatments. Findings: Several themes were obtained such as: symptoms interpretation; health habits; relatives support; and coping strategies. For instance, we found quite pro-active approach to health (“I do not wait to consult”) and more passive visions (“we’ll see later”). Discussion: The identification of these different factors could be useful to offer some interventions and prevention campaigns strategies.
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