'It's a silver lining': A template analysis of satisfaction and quality of life following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
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OBJECTIVE: In the United Kingdom, the number of women undergoing post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is increasing. Consequently, exploring patient-reported outcomes in breast surgery has become increasingly important. This study investigated satisfaction and quality of life following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. DESIGN: Qualitative research design. METHODS: In-depth, semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 25 women (age, M = 53.08, SD = 8.41) following breast reconstruction in the United Kingdom. Data were analysed using template analysis which produced three-first-level, 13 second-level, and 19 third-level themes. RESULTS: Following reconstruction, women reported improved emotional functioning, although this was often accompanied by deterioration in physical, sexual, and/or social functioning. Women positively appraised their breast appearance, although some reported a decline in satisfaction over time, attributing this decline to their chosen reconstructive technique. Many women accepted the inevitability of scarring and most perceived their scars as a representation of their journey, signifying survival. Generally, women were satisfied with the outcome of their reconstruction, although on reflection some would not have opted for reconstruction. Following breast reconstruction, women were increasingly likely to experience the fear of recurrence, attributed to no longer being able to have a mammogram on the affected breast(s). CONCLUSIONS: This study provides new insights into post-mastectomy breast reconstruction and is a novel application of template analysis. The analysis demonstrates only slight variation in some categories of experience among women, despite a heterogeneous sample. The findings allow researchers and clinicians to focus on specific dimensions of satisfaction and quality of life to support the needs of women following reconstruction. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Patient satisfaction and quality of life are key patient-reported outcomes of breast reconstruction, although relatively few studies distinguish between types of satisfaction. The number of women electing to undergo reconstructive surgery is steadily increasing. As a consequence, exploring patient-reported outcomes in reconstructive breast surgery has become increasingly important for research and clinical practice. It is often suggested that breast reconstruction offers psychosocial benefits, although within the literature some mixed findings have been reported. Therefore, a qualitative exploration has the potential to add some clarity to the experiences of women following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. What does this study add? To our knowledge, this is the first study to employ template analysis to explore the experiences of women following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Template analysis demonstrated that there was only slight variation in some categories of experience among women, despite a heterogeneous sample. This study distinguishes between the patient-reported outcomes breast satisfaction and outcome satisfaction to identify the key factors that are involved in determining satisfaction. The findings allow researchers and clinicians to focus on specific dimensions of satisfaction and quality of life which require improvement to support the unmet needs of women following breast reconstruction. The study presents two novel findings. Women attributed the fear of cancer recurrence to no longer being able to have a mammogram on the affected breast(s). Women also reported a decline in appearance-related satisfaction over time due to either the ptotic nature of autologous-based reconstruction or the fuller projected breast implant-based reconstruction affords.
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