Nurses' recognition of the mental state of cancer patients and their own stress management ― a study of Japanese cancer-care nurses


Correspondence to: Tokyo Women's Medical University School of Nursing, 8-1 Kawada-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8666, Japan. E-mail:



The primary aim of this study was to describe Japanese oncology nurses' self-reported ability to assess and care for cancer patients' mental health. A secondary aim was to describe nurses' self-reported stress levels and need for stress management related to caring for oncology patients.


This cross-sectional questionnaire study was conducted from September to November 2010 among cancer-care nurses participating in mental healthcare training. The questionnaire asked about assessment of patient anxiety, depression, delirium, anger, and acceptance, and included four statements about work-related stress. A 4-point Likert scale was used for responses.


The 88 participants (86 women) ranged in age from the 20s to the 50s, with the greatest number in their 30s (47.2%, n = 42). More than 50% of nurses were very concerned about assessing cancer patient anxiety and depression; approximately 20% were extremely concerned about caring for depression and anger in patients. Overall, 83.2% (n = 74) of cancer-care nurses felt distressed over their occupation, only 19.1% (n = 17) stated that they were controlling their stress, and over half indicated a need for stress-management programs.


Nurses perceived that assessments of and care for the mental state of cancer patients were inadequate. Cancer-care nurses need training in assessing and caring for the mental state of cancer patients, as well as stress management training programs for themselves. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.