Voice Disorders and Psychosocial Impact on Laryngeal Cancer Patients and Families: Case of Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi City County– Kenya.
Pheny, Abong’o Anyango
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Voice disorders after treatment of laryngeal cancer are usually high ranging from dysphonia to alaryngeal voice. Presence of these disorders pose myriad challenges in communication contributing to the patients’ emotional distress which can create psychological and social problems. This study sought to establish the psychological and social impact of the voice disorders on laryngeal cancer patients and families at the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic; Kenyatta National Hospital – Nairobi City County-Kenya. The objectives of this study were: to analyze the social impact of the voice disorders on the laryngeal cancer patients and families; to establish the psychological impact of the voice disorders on the laryngeal cancer patients and families; to find out coping behaviors developed by the laryngeal cancer patients and families in verbal communication at the ENT clinic of Kenyatta National Hospital. This study was anchored on Psychological Impact Theory and Social Impacts based on the estimation of the social and psychological consequences of an action on individual or specific social units. The research used a case study design adopting qualitative research methods. A sample size of thirty respondents including fifteen adult laryngeal cancer patients and fifteen family members/caregivers were purposively sampled from the ENT clinic of Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi City County- Kenya. Piloting was done at a facility with the same characteristics as KNH. Data was collected using interview schedules which were administered to the patients, observation checklists administered to both patients and family members and focus group discussions with family members/caregivers. The data was transcribed, organized, edited, coded and sorted for thematic analysis. Patterns across data sets consistent with the theoretical tradition of the study were pinpointed, examined and recorded to answer specific research questions. The key study findings were that the voice disorders led to limited social interactions among the patients and their families. The patients lost friends, had unusually quiet families, over-depended on family members to aid in verbal communication and had limited verbal engagements. The family members were not happy with the patients’ condition as they struggled to communicate. Worry and fear among the patients as well as family members increased. There were reduced levels of confidence hence low self-esteem among the patients. Negative coping strategies were adopted by both patients and family members. In conclusion, voice disorders after laryngeal cancer treatment are a source of social limitations and psychological challenges thus the need for early intervention involving both patients and family members for effective results. The study recommends increased public awareness on voice disorders and availability of speech therapy services for effective rehabilitation for both patients and family members/caregivers after laryngeal cancer treatment.