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Table 4 Response categories of the themes repeatedly occurring in men’s expressions of positive and negative thoughts about prostate cancer before surgery based on a qualitative content analysis of written responses to open-ended questions

From: Intrusive thoughts and quality of life among men with prostate cancer before and three months after surgery

Freely describe your positive thoughts about prostate cancer
Response categories according to content analysis Subject themes in responses Examples of written expression
Existential • Positive change of life “I can be positive to the fact that I know. The truth is easier than the lie, self-illusion. The hope for a continued meaningful life exists.”
• Enjoy the present “A new experience that I can learn from… about myself or others and the terms of life. Maybe I will enjoy life and others and myself even better. Live healthier – avoid stress.”
• Overcome
Relief • Not spread (advanced) “… that it was detected at an early stage and is not aggressive.”
• Found in time
• Finally some results
Support • Family and friends “There are many who are praying for me. Have got so much encouraging response from those around me.”
• Other’s experience “Four of my colleagues have had it and recovered.”
• Good information
Surgical care • Symptom relief “That I will be fine and will not need to go up and pee three times per night.”
• Cure of cancer “After surgery it will be cured.”
• Regaining health
• Faith in surgeon
• Faith in surgery
Freely describe your negative thoughts about prostate cancer
Response categories according to content analysis Subject themes in responses Examples of written expression
Existential • Quality of life “Why me?”
• Death “Why does this happen to me? Me who is always so careful? What has made the cancer grow?”
• The future “The fear that it will end with me dying and leave the family with the grief.”
• Health
Emotional • Fright “Worried about insufficiencies, loneliness, fragility, impotence, to be regarded as unpleasant.”
• Anger
• Worry
• Anxiety
• Uncertainty
Preparedness • Relative affected “My brother had a tough ride”
• Sneaky disease “My father died of it at the same age as I am now.”
• “Cancer” “… don’t really understand why and how it has appeared.”
• Incomprehensible
• Premature
Mistrust • Fail to be cured “Occasionally, even a routine operation fails…”
• Disbelief “.. I think that the doctor is just comforting me when he is saying I will be cured.”
• Pessimistic information
• Treatment choice