Objective: Experiences and need of support during surgery and start of replacement therapy in patients with pituitary tumours are highly unknown. This study therefore aimed at exploring patient experiences during pre- and postoperative care and recovery after pituitary surgery in patients with a pituitary tumour.
Methods: Within a qualitative study design, 16 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for pituitary tumours were repeatedly interviewed. In total 42 interviews were performed before and after surgery. Analysis was performed using qualitative interpretation.
Results: Suffering a pituitary tumour was overwhelming for many patients and struggling with existential issues was common. Patients expressed loneliness and vulnerability before and after surgery. How professionals handled information in connection with diagnosis greatly affected the patients. Other patients with the same diagnosis were experienced as the greatest support. Normalisation of bodily symptoms and relationships with others were reported during postoperative recovery. However, a fear that the tumour would return was present.
Conclusions: Patients with pituitary tumours need structured support, including peer support, which acknowledges physical, cognitive as well as emotional and existential concerns. Information related to diagnosis and surgery should be adapted in relation to the loneliness and the existential seriousness of the situation. Care and support for patients with pituitary tumours should preferably be organised based on continuity and an unbroken care pathway from the first pre-operative evaluation through to post-operative care and the start of a life-long endocrine treatment and tumour surveillance.