Exploring grassroots feedback about cancer challenges in South Africa: a discussion of themes derived from content thematic analysis of 316 photo-narratives

This paper by Lynn Barbara Edwards and Linda Estelle Greeff has now been published in The Pan African Medical Journal. 2017;28:173. doi:10.11604/pamj.2017.28.173.11894


Introduction: cancer is an important health problem in Africa with projections that incidence could double by 2030. While sparse, the literature on cancer control in African low- and middle-income countries suggests poor cancer planning, overburdened services and poor outcomes. South Africa has established oncology health care services but also has low cancer awareness, poor cancer surveillance and widespread service challenges.

Methods: data for this study was derived from 316 photovoice interviews with cancer patients, families of cancer patients and oncology workers across South Africa. The objectives of the study were to collect first-hand feedback about cancer challenges and to develop recommendations for the improvement of cancer control strategies.

Results: 9 themes of cancer challenges were distinguished via thematic content analysis of the photo-narratives. The identified themes of cancer challenges were physical and treatment challenges, emotional, poor services, transport, finances, information, powerlessness, stigma and schooling challenges.

Conclusion: the findings of this study offer the patient and family perspective of cancer challenges as a valid contribution to our body of cancer knowledge. The 9 themes of cancer challenges profile the emotional, physical and social impact of cancer on patients and families, and offer detailed subjective information about problem occurrence in the trajectory of care. Recommendations following from the 9 themes of cancer challenges include training for improved patient-centred care standards, the need for cancer surveillance, innovative and locally appropriate cancer awareness campaigns, private and government health care partnerships and the development of psychosocial services. The advocating of findings and recommendations to influence cancer control strategies in South Africa, is indicated.

The full paper is available on open access and may be downloaded here.



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