The experience of individuals following total laryngectomy in Western Australia: A narrative inquiry

Author Identifier

Wanjiku Gatonga

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated)


School of Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Mandy Towell-Barnard

Second Supervisor

Caroline Vafeas


Background: Total laryngectomy is rare, yet a devastating procedure that leaves a person with a lifetime of struggle. Unfortunately, there is limited research that has explored the experiences of these individuals following the procedure. In addition, how these experiences are processed and interpreted by the individual is unclear as most studies on total laryngectomy have focused on the quality of life and the psychological issues in people who have had the procedure. It is therefore essential that the experiences of those living with a total laryngectomy from their perspective and in their own voice are explored and understood.

Method: This qualitative study utilised a narrative inquiry approach to explore the experience of six people who had undergone a total laryngectomy. Purposive sampling was used to identify participants meeting the study criteria.

Data analysis: Narrative thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the data. Narrative analysis facilitated restoring of each narrative while applying McCormack’s Lenses to write the interpretive stories. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis was utilised to derive themes. Four themes emerged, namely: I need to know more; Visible but invisible; Who really cares?; and Making a future.

Conclusion: Total laryngectomy is not only challenging for the person, but also their family and the healthcare workers. There is a lack of knowledge and awareness of the procedure by healthcare workers, as well as members of the public, with a need to develop strategies to create awareness and understanding of the complicated journey faced by these individuals. Regular and ongoing total laryngectomy training should therefore be developed and offered to healthcare workers. There is also a need to develop easy access to education programs for the person and their family, to increase awareness and promote care outcome.

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