Integrative review of breast cancer survivors’ transition experience and transitional care: dialog with transition theory perspectives


The health of breast cancer survivors (BCSs) is an essential concern worldwide. This review summarizes current knowledge and proposes a novel framework for understanding BCSs’ transition experiences and adopting a more holistic view of transitional care to ensure a successful shift from patient-to-survivor. An integrative review was applied whereby we searched CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, and ProQuest. Eleven qualitative and 16 experimental articles were extracted and evaluated. Constant comparison and matrix classification were used for data analysis, extraction, and synthesizing, which were circulated between the study findings and transitions theory. The breast cancer survivors’ incorporated transition theory (BCSITT) encompasses the concepts of transition nature, conditions, intervention strategies, and patterns of response as developed from the data analysis. Facilitators and inhibitors of BCSs’ transition experience in the personal, interpersonal, organizational, communal, societal dimensions as well as an empirical intervention of BCSs’ transitional care from micro to macro levels are proposed. In conclusion, the BCSITT could provide comprehensive insights for understanding the phenomenon of BCSs’ transition from primary treatment completion to self-management and serve as a holistic framework to guide clinical practice and research for BCSs’ transitional care. Health care professionals need to assess the readiness of BCSs for transition and provide early interventions for enhancing BCSs’ mastering of new skills to manage the challenges of transition. Incorporating stakeholders at each level and providing a comprehensive continuum of care may successfully assist BCSs’ patient-to-survivor transition.

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Authors gratefully acknowledge Prof. Tzu-I Tsai for her suggestion toward writing.


This research received a grant support from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST, 108-2511-H-010-002-MY2) in Taiwan, the Republic of China.

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Correspondence to Shuh-Jen Sheu.

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Chao, YH., Wang, SY. & Sheu, SJ. Integrative review of breast cancer survivors’ transition experience and transitional care: dialog with transition theory perspectives. Breast Cancer 27, 810–818 (2020).

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  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Transitional care
  • Transitions theory
  • Integrative review