Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lori Roscoe, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diane Price Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mian Shahzad, Ph.D.


Health Communication, Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia, Quality-of-Life, Longitudinal Interviewing, Qualitative Method, Gynecologic Oncology


This study is an examination of ovarian and uterine cancer patients’ perceptions of chemotherapy-induced alopecia and how it impacts quality-of-life over the course of chemotherapy. The chapters in this dissertation address the following research questions: How do ovarian and uterine cancer patients communicate about their experiences of alopecia over the course of chemotherapy? How does chemotherapy-induced alopecia influence patients’ understandings of quality-of-life? Longitudinal interviews were conducted with a patient population of twenty-three, and each patient was interviewed at least twice over the course of chemotherapy. The data set was composed of fifty-five interviews, and a thematic analysis was performed across interview transcripts.

Analysis of the data revealed four themes: 1) chemotherapy-induced alopecia and quality-of-life; 2) the “mirror moment”; 3) performance of social roles; and 4) gendered visibility. Data indicate ovarian and uterine cancer patients experienced substantial daily distress related to chemotherapy-induced alopecia. The ability to perform social roles deemed important to patients’ quality-of-life such as the familial roles of partner and mother/grandmother were negatively impacted by hair loss. Patients’ distress concerning alopecia was strongly connected to the ability to function in the public sphere without feeling approachable or being approached by “strangers” because of their alopecia.

Clinicians might consider repeatedly asking about chemotherapy-induced alopecia over the course of chemotherapy, both because it could help patients cope with the side effect and because it may generate dialogue related to other important concerns late-stage cancer patients may feel are too trivial to mention in clinical discussions. Women’s social and familial roles may be impacted by alopecia and chemotherapy in unique ways that deserve additional study.