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Original Research

Open Access

Rowing towards the shore: coping strategies in males living with lymphoedema

  • Josianne Scerri1,2,*,
  • Sarah Cilia Vincenti1
  • Michael Galea1
  • Carmel Cefai3
  • Paulann Grech1
  • Alexei Sammut1
  • Christie Attard1

1Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, MSD2080 Msida, Malta

2Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education, Kingston University, KT2 7LB Surrey, UK

3Centre for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health, University of Malta, MSD2080 Msida, Malta

DOI: 10.22514/jomh.2024.068 Vol.20,Issue 5,May 2024 pp.35-41

Submitted: 26 December 2023 Accepted: 23 January 2024

Published: 30 May 2024

*Corresponding Author(s): Josianne Scerri E-mail:


Lymphoedema is a swelling in part of the body due to an obstructed flow of lymphatic fluid. Extant literature mainly targets coping strategies in females having breast cancer related lymphoedema. This research aims to explore the coping strategies of males living with lymphoedema, secondary to cancer treatment. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 13 males aged between 50 to 85 years. Five themes emerged namely: adjusting attire, changing lifestyle activity, distracting the mind, leaning onto available support and immersing in spirituality. Males described wearing loose, easy-to-wear clothing over swollen body parts. Changes in lifestyle included pacing of activities, avoiding/modifying activities to avoid injury and incorporating treatment in their daily routine. Distraction was enabled though immersion in work, engaging in hobbies and humorous banter. Participants also coped by expressing gratitude, living in the present moment, accepting situations over which they lacked control, connecting with nature, and turning to their religious beliefs. There is a need for health professionals to explore the illness narratives and coping strategies of males living with lymphoedema as this impacts their overall well-being. Interventions targeting coping strategies for males with lymphoedema should address the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual domains of well-being.


Lymphoedema; Interpretative phenomenological analysis; Coping; Cancer; Males

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Josianne Scerri,Sarah Cilia Vincenti,Michael Galea,Carmel Cefai,Paulann Grech,Alexei Sammut,Christie Attard. Rowing towards the shore: coping strategies in males living with lymphoedema. Journal of Men's Health. 2024. 20(5);35-41.


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