Background: Patient adherence to medication is critical to treatment success and is influenced by the patient’s perception about what the medication is for and when it should be taken (1).The repertory grid technique (RGT) was originally developed from personal construct theory by George Kelly (2) and identifies a person’s own perceptions and understanding of a topic. The technique has the potential to elicit how an individual patient perceives and conceptualises their medication.
Aims: To explore patient’s characterisation of their chemotherapy and supportive therapy for breast cancer using a modified RGT.
Methodology: Day therapy patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer were interviewed utilising the RGT. Study participants were asked to describe similarities and differences (the constructs) between their medicines (the elements) and were then required to rate each of their medicines against their own constructs on a Likert scale of 1-10, with 10 being relevant and 1 being not relevant. Generated constructs from all groups were combined into themes and analysed for commonality and frequency of themes. Principal components analysis (PCA) was performed on the grid data using Idiogrid software® to produce visual representations of the data.
Results: Forty-three participants participated in the study generating 144 constructs. Common elicited themes included ‘recognise the drug’ n=44 (18%), ‘chemotherapy’ n=40 (16%) and ‘prevents nausea and vomiting’ n=39 (16%). PCA produced graphical representation for each interview, mapping patient descriptions to the medicines. Patients frequently characterised chemotherapy and supportive therapy into distinct areas and tended to characterise medicines according to what they were for, what their side effects were and if they knew the name.
Conclusions: The RGT allows the patient to define and describe how they characterise each medicine in their own words and provides a useful technique to elicit how an individual patient conceptualises their medication. The results of this study warrant further use of the repertory grid technique to explore how patients with cancer characterise medication and what may influence their medication taking decisions and behaviour.