Publication Date



cancer survivorship, anxiety, qualitative study, patient perspectives, primary care, oncology


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine patient opinions about anxiety in cancer survivorship, particularly the role of the primary care provider in management of anxiety related to the trajectory of long-term cancer survivorship.

Methods: Respondents to a mass email (N = 22,000) were invited to participate in 1 of 3 institutional review board-approved focus group meetings. Inclusion criteria were being an adult patient older than 25 years of age, having any type of cancer diagnosis, and being at least 18 months from treatment. The following specific issues were discussed: role of the primary care provider during and after therapy; the transition to primary care after therapy was finished; and advice the survivors would give to providers and cancer survivors. Focus group meetings were audio-recorded and later transcribed and reviewed by members of the research team using constant comparison methods.

Results: Three 2-hour focus groups were conducted to interview 22 cancer survivors. We found 5 main themes related to anxiety in cancer survivorship: memory of anxiety; anxiety related to possible cancer recurrence; role of close relationship with the health care provider in anxiety management; frequency of communication in reduction of anxiety symptoms; and effect of anxiety on future health decisions posttreatment.

Conclusions: Survivors described anxiety persisting throughout cancer diagnosis and treatment and well into survivorship. They reported receiving care from primary care providers as well as oncologists. Anxiety was discussed by most participants as a significant part of their experience with cancer.




May 6th, 2019


August 29th, 2019


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