The experience of living with mesothelioma: A meta-ethnographic review and synthesis of the qualitative literature

Health Psychology 2022 February 24 [Link]

Benjamin Lond, Kerry Quincey, Lindsay Apps, Liz Darlison, Iain Williamson


Objective: Mesothelioma is a life limiting cancer caused by previous exposure to asbestos. Due to the continued use of asbestos products internationally, the condition presents an increasing risk to global health with case numbers peaking in industrially developed nations. With the cancer reducing patient well-being, this study aimed to synthesizes the qualitative findings of studies exploring the experiences of patients living with mesothelioma to generate new conceptual insights and guide therapeutic care.

Method: Thirteen databases were systematically searched: Academic Search Premier, BioMed Central, British Nursing Database, CINAHL Plus, Cochrane Library, Europe PubMed Central, MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, Science Direct, Scopus, Social Care Online, and Web of Science, between August and September 2020. Included articles were subject to quality appraisal using CASP checklists, and their respective findings analyzed using a metaethnographic form of qualitative data synthesis.

Results: Twenty-two articles met the inclusion criteria, and the data synthesis produced three themes: (1) “complex trauma”; (2) “psycho-behavioral coping strategies”; and (3) “external sources of support.” Combined, these themes form a novel conceptual framework and awareness of the patient experience that presents the lived trauma of disease alongside a patients coping processes and support pathways.

Conclusion: Robust therapeutic support is needed to address the psychosocial and existential burden shouldered by people with mesothelioma. Therapies that promote sentiments of acceptance, hope, and benefit finding are proposed alongside initiatives that foster patient empowerment and meaning, and further promote patient choice in deciding end-of-life care. Recommendations for future research are also made.