Gender and the experiences of living with mesothelioma: A thematic analysis

European Journal of Oncology Nursing 2021 April 28 [Link]

Stephanie Ejegi-Memeh, Steve Robertson, Bethany Taylor, Liz Darlison, Angela Tod


Purpose: Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. As a cancer with a higher rate in men than women, women’s experiences of living with mesothelioma are often underexplored. Furthermore, men’s experiences are often taken for granted and therefore have remained underexplored. This paper considers men’s and women’s experiences across the mesothelioma pathway.

Methods: This qualitative study incorporated semi-structured interviews with 13 men and 11 women living with mesothelioma. Telephone interviews took place between July and December 2019, and were audio recorded, transcribed and anonymised. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results: Three themes were developed in relation to the gendered experience of mesothelioma: familial responsibility and social perceptions; support preferences; and treatment and trials. Analysis suggests that men and women’s sense of familial responsibility varied. Differences in priorities and motivations influenced approaches to seeking support, compensation and, making decisions around treatments and clinical trials.

Conclusions: The current study reports on how gender can influence the experience of living with mesothelioma. The findings indicate how the patients’ role in their families and society can more broadly influence their experiences, choices and preferences. Nurses caring for mesothelioma patients need high quality research on which to base their practice. Recognition and an understanding of the underlying factors influencing patients’ decision-making will enable nurses and other professionals to support their patients better.