The experience of cancer-related cognitive impairment across common cancers: a qualitative systematic review protocol

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Cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is commonly experienced by patients with cancer during treatment, and 35% of patients experience cognitive impairment after treatment completion. Impairments in memory, attention, executive functioning, and information processing speed are most reported and often negatively impact daily functioning and quality of life (QoL). Despite the large scale of reports, this adverse side effect is underinvestigated across common cancer types, and there is a lack of insight into the CRCI experience.

This qualitative synthesis aims to explore the evidence in relation to the experience of CRCI across common cancers. It also aims to understand the prevalence of CRCI across various cancer types, cognitive domains, and its impact on QoL and functional ability.

A comprehensive search of databases, including PubMed, American Psychological Association PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Scopus, will be conducted. A total of 2 independent reviewers will screen titles and abstracts for inclusion, followed by full-text screening. A third reviewer will resolve any arising conflicts in the process of data screening and inclusion. Subsequently, data extraction and quality assessment using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool will be conducted. The results will be analyzed using thematic analysis.

This review is part of a PhD program funded in January 2023. The review commenced in June 2023, and data analysis is currently in progress. The qualitative synthesis will explore the experiences of CRCI across common cancers. The included studies are expected to report on numerous cancer types such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, and lung cancer. The included study types are most likely to be interviews, focus groups, and surveys with qualitative components.

This protocol highlights the need for a qualitative synthesis that will explore the experience of CRCI across common cancer types. It will provide valuable insight into the lived experience of CRCI and the cognitive domains that may be disproportionately affected. There is a growing demand for further management interventions and clinically tested treatments of CRCI and the qualitative exploration of patient experience is crucial for their development. This qualitative synthesis will inform future developments and will contribute to improving QoL after cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere56888
Number of pages7
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Early online date10 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2024


  • cancer-related cognitive impairment
  • quality of life
  • qualitative synthesis


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