A new normal: reconciling change in appearance and function for men with head and neck cancer



Rennie C, Stoddart K & Hubbard G (2018) A new normal: reconciling change in appearance and function for men with head and neck cancer. Cancer Nursing Practice, 17 (5), Art. No.: e1449.

Aim  The aim of this study was to explore how men with head and neck cancer (HNC) experience appearance and functional change following diagnosis.  Method  Grounded theory methodology was chosen and 12 retrospective semi-structured interviews were undertaken with men who were 12 to 24 months post-diagnosis.  Findings  Three interrelated categories emerged from the data, normalising change, ‘being under siege’; getting through treatment and reclaiming self. The core category was reconciling change: a new normal that reflects the social and psychological processes involved in accommodating and assimilating change in appearance and function for men with HNC.  Conclusion  The substantive theory provides insight into how men with HNC prioritise function and actively distance themselves from concerns about appearance. Further, it identifies that men may be at risk of social anxiety and isolation where there are multiple changes or body incompetence and these findings should inform clinical practice and care provision.

body image; cancer; head and neck cancer; patients; patient experience; quality of life

Cancer Nursing Practice: Volume 17, Issue 5

Publication date10/09/2018
Publication date online26/04/2018
Date accepted by journal05/12/2017
PublisherRoyal College of Nursing

People (2)


Dr Gill Hubbard

Dr Gill Hubbard

Reader, Health Sciences (Highland & W.Isles)

Dr Kathleen Stoddart

Dr Kathleen Stoddart

Senior Lecturer, Health Sciences Stirling