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Distress in Patients With Cancer: Definition, Assessment, and Suggested Interventions

Leesa Vitek
Margaret Quinn Rosenzweig
Susan Stollings
CJON 2007, 11(3), 413-418 DOI: 10.1188/07.CJON.413-418

Distress in patients with cancer impacts their quality of life. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) created a distress thermometer and a problem checklist to aid in recognizing distress. The thermometer measures distress on a 0-10 scale, and the problem checklist identifies more specific etiologies of distress, such as practical, spiritual, physical, emotional, and family problems. Oncology nurses play a key role in the success of the distress-screening tool because they have the most patient contact. The NCCN guidelines suggest that patients complete the screening tools at each visit and clinicians review the outcome. NCCN has provided clinical pathways for treating the etiologies of distress using a multidisciplinary approach, including members from social work, pastoral services, mental health, and oncology.

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