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A qualitative study on experiences of stigma among postoperative oral cancer patients.

AIM: This study aimed to explore the characteristics of stigma in postoperative oral cancer patients to provide a reference for the formulation of targeted intervention measures.

METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted on 25 postoperative oral cancer patients in a tertiary A hospital in Hunan, China, from March to July 2021. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews focused on experiences of stigma were performed. The interview data was analyzed using the NVivo V.12 software based on the reflexive intuitive thematic analysis method. The paper complies with the COREQ.

RESULTS: The stigma experience of postoperative oral cancer patients can be divided into 3 themes: (1) triggers (impaired appearance and oral function and psycho-social pressure); (2) forms (overall isolation, unpleasant feeling of inferiority, and unpleasant social discrimination); (3) coping strategies (positive psychological adjustment, seeking social support and coming out of the unpleasant shadows).

CONCLUSION: Postoperative oral cancer patients clearly articulated that stigma was present in their lives and they experienced multiple forms of stigma. Further work is needed to increase education and awareness about oral cancer to guide them to take positive coping and reduce stigma.

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