Sample Research Paper on Breast Cancer

Background
This research paper was written by a group of overtly qualified individuals that have received a supreme quality of post secondary education and hold multiple degrees in the field of medicine. Comprised of scholars with prestigious titles such as PhD and Master of Science and those with high level of medical expertise such as registered nurses, the authorship of this research boats a high standard of credibility that assures the reader a quality report. Winnie So, PhD currently serves as the honorary advisor of symptom control and management group at the Tianjin Medical Cancer Institute and received her Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado (ISNCC, n.d). Gene Marsh also has his PhD and Registerd Nurse and has written for many credible journals through out his career, including the Journal of Clinical Nursing and Advances in Nursing Science (Marsh, Prochoda, Pritchett, & Voiir, 2000). The study is conducted in Hong Kong, China and it samples 215 Chinese women who are, at the time, in the process of receiving treatment for breast cancer.

Problem Statement
This report discusses the effects of forms of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy on female breast cancer patients. It examines a cluster of symptoms including fatigue, anxiety and depression and how these symptoms concern the quality of life of these patients. The uniqueness of this study is that it examines a cluster of symptoms and their relationship with one another, rather than focusing on a single symptom, as many studies have done in the past. This study holds importance for many reasons. Not only is breast cancer considered one of the most common forms of cancer in the world, but it is also one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths in the female population where this study was conducted. The treatment of breast cancer comes along with stressing side effects that often cause irreversible damage to the patient. It is crucial to understand the relationship among these symptoms and the patient in order to enhance clinical sensitivity when designing and prioritizing symptom management strategies for patients, especially those in high-risk groups (So. W, et al., 2009).

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Research Design
The report on this study established that patients with breast cancer experience a high rate and intensity of fatigue, pain and anxiety. Although studies have been conducted on each of these symptoms, there has been few studies produced which combine the symptoms into symptom clusters and examine the relationship between symptoms. This study examined the aforementioned three symptoms as a cluster in relation to the psychological disorder of depression in cancer patients. Perhaps the major driving force of this study is a greater understanding of the factors that can manipulate the quality of life of Chinese breast cancer patients. This study considered and analyzed type of treatment, household income, the prevalence of symptoms, social support and family life as factors that affect the quality of life of patients. An elaborate analysis of the effect that the symptom cluster of fatigue, pain and anxiety have on the outcome of the patient is comprised the majority of the report on this study.

Methods of Data Analysis
In order to carry out this study, the researchers used the revised model for symptom management, which consists of three inter-related dimensions including symptom experience, symptom management strategies, and outcomes (So. W, et al., 2009). In determining the level of symptom experience, the Chinese versions of the following methods of measurement were used, The Brief Fatigue Inventory was used to measure levels of fatigue, The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was used to measure levels of anxiety and depression, The Brief Pain Inventory was used to measure levels of pain, The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy for Breast Cancer was used to measure QOL, and The Medical Outcomes Study- Social Support Survey was used to measure patients’ social support (So. W, et al., 2009).

The Symptom Cluster
The research found that out fatigue, pain, anxiety, and depression, severe levels of fatigue was the most common symptom, experienced by 36% of the respondents. Furthermore, patients undergoing radiotherapy experienced lower levels of fatigue than those undergoing chemotherapy. Furthermore, high levels of anxiety and depression indicate a correlation between breast cancer treatment and negative effects on the psychological well being of patients. Since it is a Chinese cultural norm to internalize emotions, detection of psychological symptoms is vital in order to receive proper psychological relief. The research explained that pain and fatigue had both direct and indirect effects on psychological symptoms, which supports the existence of a symptom cluster (So. W, et al., 2009).

Factors Affecting the Quality of Life
The study found that the type of treatment and social support were the greatest influencers on the quality of life of patients. In regard to type of treatment, the results indicate that those undergoing chemotherapy rather than radiotherapy, possibly due to the severity of treatment side effects experienced lower quality of life. The coupling of the subjected symptom cluster with covariates of social support and type of treatment explained 66% of the variance associated with QOL (So. W, et al., 2009). Cultural norms in regards to family life such as the importance of marital status and extended versus immediate family were considered but not explored, leaving room for further research to be conducted.

Critical Analysis – Positives
The research conducted is clearly a fundamentally important issue for society today. Cancer is primarily considered a physical disease and the majority of research conducted focuses on treating the physical ailments associated with the disease. However, treatment can often leave patients with psychological scars that will affect them for the rest of their lives. For this reason, research studies like these are crucial in the holistic sense of patients’ well being. The research design and process was thought out, receiving approval from the ethics committees of the institutions at which they were conducted. Furthermore, a specialized training program was administered for the research nurses partaking in the study, which included an introduction to the study, mock patient-interviews, relationship building exercises, and performance feedback.

The presentation of the study utilizes a comprehensive, easy-to-scan, and easy-to-read structure of information flow. The inclusion of tables, flowcharts, summaries, and diagrams throughout the report maintain a refreshing aura of logical consistency while managing to refrain from becoming an eyesore.

Negatives
The study was conducted at only one particular time. Furthermore, the study was conducted at different stages of treatment for radiotherapy patients and chemotherapy patients. This means that reported symptom levels may not be completely indicative of the situation of that patient. It would be unsafe to assume that the physical and psychological state of each patient would remain the same throughout his or her treatment. Should this study have undergone the same process at multiple instances and stages of treatment, it would possibly present a more intricate and accurate result.

It can be also argued that the sample used to produce this study is insufficiently diverse for utilization with wider populations and/or misrepresentative of the Hong Kong community. The research study focuses on the ethnic Chinese female population, which may limit the future applications of this study due to cultural differences and norms between the Chinese populations (such as those in other cities and areas of China, as well as those elsewhere in the world). The sample also includes only 48 females who are employed. This most certainly can skew the reported results of levels of the symptom cluster, seeing as a lack of employment often causes feelings of lessening self-worth and depression. However, as the aim of the research was to provide an analysis of the Chinese breast cancer patient population, the sample generally provides an acceptable reference tool for such a study.

Conclusion
The notion that symptoms can be viewed and studied as symptom clusters has been proven to be a valid point. The authors of this research study have successfully raised awareness of the relationship between fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression and these symptoms’ lasting effects on breast cancer patients. The study also indicates multiple instances where requirements and recommendations for further study are applicable. The researchers have done a good job making sure that this study did not duplicate other studies and served its own unique purpose. The things that have been overlooked in this study do not outweigh the significant findings presented. However, the stated conclusion that “The findings supported that the existence of the symptom cluster that had detrimental effects on QOL”(So. W, et al., 2009) can be argued to be rather palpable by mere observation, questioning the necessity for such a general conclusion. Perhaps this type of study could be used as a basis for further, more specified research including an emphasis on the mentioned cultural differences of Chinese versus patients of other ethnicities.

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