OBJECTIVE:Psychological distress impacts a variety of health outcomes in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Focused qualitative studies on a wider range of psychological distress in HSCT patients are lacking. However, understanding the subtleties of psychological distress (e.g. fear, guilt, loss of control) in HSCT patients is imperative to optimising the psychological well-being of this vulnerable population. To explore psychological distress after transplantation, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 25 HSCT patients. METHODS:Interviews were completed in the first 100 days after transplantation. Interview modules explored psychological distress symptoms in the hospital and during the first 100 days after HSCT, along with the perceived impact of these symptoms on their recovery. RESULTS:Of the negative emotional experiences reported, feeling trapped, fear, guilt, discouragement and powerlessness were frequently expressed. Patients reported that negative emotional states interfered with their motivation to participate in health behaviours important to the transplant recovery. CONCLUSION:As one of the few qualitative studies broadly characterising the nature of negative emotional experiences after HSCT, these findings add to our understanding of the specific psychological challenges in this growing patient population and can inform development of targeted interventions and overall management of psychological distress during HSCT recovery.