Older patients' experiences following initial diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia: A qualitative study

Published:September 02, 2022DOI:



      The onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) often occur suddenly and may lead to a range of emotional responses. Understanding patients' experiences and emotional states allows clinicians to tailor care to patients' needs. Previous studies have largely focused on patients' experiences at diagnosis and after remission has been achieved among those who received intensive chemotherapy. In this study, we evaluated experiences of older patients with AML who had received or were receiving treatments of varying intensity, in both outpatient and inpatient settings, and who were at different stages in their treatment course at the time of our interviews.

      Materials and methods

      We conducted a single center qualitative study which aimed to understand factors influencing older patients' treatment decision-making and the findings were previously reported. This analysis specifically explored older patients' experiences at various stages after AML diagnosis. We purposively sampled patients based on treatment intensity and stage of treatment (undergoing induction treatment, post-remission treatment, or post-allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant). We recruited fifteen patients aged ≥60 years with AML. The sample size was determined based on reaching data saturation for the primary study aim. For this analysis, data saturation was reached by the fourteenth manuscript. In-depth semi-structured interviews that had been recorded and transcribed were re-analyzed using inductive thematic analysis to explore patients' experiences. Coding was performed using Atlas.ti. We identified themes with the aim of capturing the most commonly shared experiences.


      Mean age of the fifteen patients was 72.1 years; all had received one or more treatments including intensive induction therapy (10/15), lower-intensity treatment (7/15), and/or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (3/15). Patients experienced strong negative emotional responses, including shock, that were barriers to processing information and meaningful communication. Patients also shared their perspectives on communication with healthcare professionals (including thoughts on adequacy of information provided) and coping strategies.


      Understanding older patients' experiences, including emotional responses and barriers to communication and decision making, at AML diagnosis and throughout the illness trajectory allows clinicians to address patients' supportive care needs during this difficult period.


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