Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a paramount concern among ovarian cancer survivors. Evidence shows that cancer survivors living in regional or rural areas have higher psychological morbidity; however, no known studies have explored how ovarian cancer survivors living in small urban and rural areas cope with FCR.
In this qualitative descriptive study, a semi-structured questioning process was developed in accordance with Carver et al.’s conceptualization of coping. Focus groups or 1:1 telephone interviews were used to collect data from a convenience sample of ovarian cancer survivors. Participants completed a demographic form and the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory, and clinical information was extracted from hospital charts.
The average age of participants (n = 15) was 62.8 years (Range 51-76 years) and the average time since diagnosis was 2.7 years (Range 1-19 years). Most women had elevated levels of FCR. Five themes for coping were expressed by all women: 1) health care provider support; 2) knowing, trusting, and prioritizing self; 3) finding what works; 4) uniqueness and belonging; and 5) redirecting thoughts and actions. One additional theme was expressed by most women (n = 11): 6) preparing for the future.
Fear of cancer recurrence was a concern for most ovarian cancer survivors who used a variety of ways to cope. Results can be used to guide nurses’ discussions with post-treatment ovarian cancer survivors or be used to inform refinement and development of resources to assist ovarian cancer survivors living in small urban and rural settings to cope with FCR.

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