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Cancer experiences in metaphors: A scoping review in 4D PICTURE Project

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineMeeting abstractpeer-review

Article numberA05
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Palliative Medicine
Issue numberSuppl. 2024 EAPC WR Congress
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background/aims: The use of metaphors for the experience of cancer has long been the topic of research and debate. Metaphors can both reflect and shape people’s views and emotions, and some metaphors, such as the “battle” against cancer, have been criticized for potentially contributing to patients’ distress. Questions remain about what metaphors tend to be used by different populations for different aspects of the cancer experience, and this scoping review aims to address them.
Methods: We undertook a scoping review and searched PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus and Web of Science databases. Eligible sources include peer- reviewed scientific research published in English between 2013 and 2023, utilizing authentic language data to summarize metaphors related to various cancer-related topics, such as cancer itself, the lived experience, patients, health professionals, carers. We selected studies involving adult populations (age ≥ 18) and excluded studies addressing methodological issues or empirical research primarily centered on assessing the impact of specific metaphor usage. Results: Out of 1929 articles identified, 30 met the criteria, spanning diverse populations (cancer patients, health professionals) from various journals (medical, linguistic, psychology, social work). Most papers focused on general cancer topics, followed by specific cancer types (e.g., gynaecological, breast, colorectal, lung). Data encompassed both spontaneous and elicited content in ten languages, primarily English. Dominant metaphors across populations were War and Violence, mainly describing the cancer experience overall. Nonetheless, variations surfaced in metaphors used by different populations for various cancer-related aspects, including diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.
Conclusions: Future research and communication practice need to consider variation in metaphor use depending on topic and population. Further work is needed on potential differences based on demographic characteristics, type/stage of disease, and care pathway.