Traumatic Stress in Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer amongst Women in Nairobi County, Kenya

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African Journal of Clinical Psychology


Breast cancer has been on the increase lately and it is the leading cause of cancer-related death among females worldwide. Specifically, the study was guided by the following objective that assessed traumatic stress associated with diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer among female survivors in Nairobi County, Kenya. The study adopted a mixed method embedded research design combining ex post facto and survey designs from the quantitative paradigm and phenomenology from the qualitative paradigm. Participants in this study were 60 females who had undergone diagnosis of breast cancer and received treatment including, mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy within the last three years. Participants were sampled using Purposive sampling for quantitative data and extreme case sampling for qualitative data. Quantitative data was collected using an Impact of Event Scale – Revised (IES-R) tool, while interviews were used for qualitative data. Ethical considerations of informed consent, confidentiality, anonymity and debriefing were applied. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics for the quantitative data and thematic analysis for qualitative data. The findings of the study indicated that a vast majority of the participants (90.00%) reported severe PTSD with only 6.70% and 3.30% of participants reporting moderate and sub clinical PTSD respectively. Precipitators of traumatic stress during the diagnosis, and treatment phases were reported to be how diagnosis results were communicated and treatment related side effects including mastectomy, hair loss, weight loss/gain and body image related changes. These findings may be relevant in designing future interventions that combine physical and mental health of breast cancer survivors, in order to alleviate the traumatic stress associated with diagnosis and treatment.




Traumatic Stress in Diagnosis, Treatment of Breast Cancer