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Patients' Experiences of Appearance Changes Following Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation

Russell, Charlotte MSc, BSc(Hons); Harcourt, Diana PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons); Henderson, Lucy RN; Marks, David Ian MBBS, PhD, FRACP, FRCPath

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181f8f884

Background: No previous research has explored the impact of the many appearance changes that can occur in patients following bone marrow transplantation (BMT).

Objective: This research aimed to explore in depth patients' experiences of appearance changes following allogeneic BMT to address the lack of knowledge in this area.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 6 men and women who had received an allogeneic BMT within the previous 6 months to 2 years. Interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Results: The findings illustrated that appearance changes had an impact on participants' confidence. It was also found that participants appeared to prioritize and view their appearance changes in the context of having a life-threatening treatment and experiencing many adverse effects. Appearance changes were a low priority until the immediate dangers of treatment had subsided and participants were returning to their former roles. In addition, it was also found that the isolation that participants experienced while recovering from transplant seemed to lessen the effects of appearance changes by limiting their exposure to the reactions and perceptions of others.

Conclusions: The effects of appearance changes on confidence may become problematic if individuals are still experiencing an altered appearance when returning to former roles.

Implications for Practice: This study highlights the need to identify and support those with long-term appearance changes.

Author Affiliations: Centre for Appearance Research, UWE, Bristol (Ms Russell and Dr Harcourt); and University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust (Ms Henderson and Professor Marks), United Kingdom.

Correspondence: Charlotte Russell, MSc, BSc(Hons), Centre for Appearance Research, School of Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY UK (

Accepted for publication August 23, 2010.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.