Reflexive Responses to Social Challenges among Rural Breast Cancer Patients in Sri Lanka


  • H. P. N. I. Kumarasinghe 1Department of Business Management, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka
  • U.K. Thalgaspitiya 2Department of Human Resource Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka


The most common cancer among women worldwide is breast cancer. In recent years, the number of women in Sri Lanka who have had a breast cancer diagnosis has increased steadily and significantly. The social challenges experienced by breast cancer patients worldwide have been extensively researched by academics, but Sri Lankan rural women have gained very less attention. Thus, this study focused on identifying the reflexive responses of Sri Lankan rural women living with breast cancer to social challenges under three themes: family and community support, accessing medical support and information, and coping with the financial burden. This study takes a qualitative approach, with data obtained through semi-structured interviews and with twenty-four rural women living with breast cancer who were self-selected. Themes were derived using a first-level analytical coding approach, and data were analyzed using thematic analysis. As major findings, most women have good support from their family and community. Educational level and employability have affected the degree of social support, and women who have high social interaction receive greater social support. Accessing medical support and information was the biggest challenge due to long-distance travel and the lack of proper access to information before diagnosis. Lack of health information harms these women. Some women do not know the symptoms, available treatments and where to go for treatments. Although most of them have a severe financial burden, as a positive point of being rural, these women have good supportive people around them. Women who have greater interaction with society have greater financial support than others.