Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Coping in patients with pancreatic cancer: a scoping review and narrative synthesis
  1. Patrick Ristau1,
  2. Claudia Oetting-Roß2 and
  3. Andreas Büscher1,3
  1. 1Faculty of Health, School of Nursing Science, Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany
  2. 2Münster School of Health, Fachhochschule Münster, Münster, Germany
  3. 3Faculty of Business Management and Social Sciences, Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Osnabrück, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Patrick Ristau, Faculty of Health, School of Nursing Science, Witten/Herdecke University, 58448 Witten, Germany; patrick.ristau{at}


Introduction Pancreatic cancer is a malignant disease with one of the highest cancer-specific mortality rates. Coping with it probably differs from other malignant diseases. This scoping review was intended to explore and characterise academic literature related to the coping in patients with pancreatic cancer.

Methods Eight databases were searched for primary and secondary studies and reviews reporting on coping with pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) in adults in English or German language, regardless of publication date or study design, which were then analysed and summarised by narrative synthesis.

Results Of 1472 publications identified, 9 articles and book contributions published from 1989 to 2020 in the USA, Europe and Australia met the inclusion criteria. The two main aspects covered were the confrontation with coping tasks, and the reciprocally associated coping with these challenges. In particular, the coping tasks revealed some pancreatic cancer-specific features, such as an increased incidence of depression and anxiety or certain digestive problems, whereas applying of coping strategies seems to be more like the coping behaviours known from the literature for other severe or cancer diseases.

Conclusions Patients with pancreatic cancer experience various health issues and face various quality of life changes and coping tasks. Disease-specific contextual factors, usually consisting of late diagnosis at an advanced stage, rapid progression and often poor prognosis, as well as disease-specific challenges are major differences compared with other malignancies or serious illnesses. However, the coping strategies applied do not seem to differ in principle. Currently, no pancreatic cancer-specific coping model exists.

  • cancer
  • pancreatic
  • supportive care

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Twitter @PatrickRistau

  • Contributors PR conducted the study conception and design, and the analysis and interpretation of data, drafted the manuscript and revised content based on feedback. CO-R and AB assisted with study conception and design, interpretation of data and provided critical revision of drafts. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript. PR is responsible for the integrity of this work as a whole.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.