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'Chemobrain': Concentration and memory effects in people receiving chemotherapy - a descriptive phenomenological study

Turton, P.; Mitchell, Theresa


P. Turton

Theresa Mitchell


There is an international literature which claims that there is a link between chemotherapeutic agents and cognitive impairment. Deficits in concentration and memory can have a major impact on decision making about education and careers, and on general quality of life. The literature to date is generally anecdotal, or reports on quantitative research that does not address patients' interpretations of impaired cognition. It was the intention of this study to capture experiences and perceptions of cognitive impairment as told by people receiving chemotherapy. A descriptive phenomenological approach was employed and four participants were interviewed twice. Analysis was conducted using Nvivo software alongside Hycner's analysis framework so that researchers could produce narratives to represent experiences for each case. The description for each case illuminates uniqueness and commonality. 'Chemobrain' is a significant and important issue for many patients but they are often unaware, prior to chemotherapy, that cognition may be affected. There is no shared understanding between patients and healthcare professionals and there is a lack of information about the phenomena which disempower patients. Healthcare professionals should develop knowledge and skills to recognise and address chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Turton, P., Mitchell, T., & Turton, P. (2011). 'Chemobrain': Concentration and memory effects in people receiving chemotherapy - a descriptive phenomenological study. European Journal of Cancer Care, 20(4), 539-548.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2011
Journal European Journal of Cancer Care
Print ISSN 0961-5423
Electronic ISSN 1365-2354
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 539-548
Keywords chemotherapy, cognitive impairment, phenomenology, chemobrain, memory loss
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