Patients' and nurses' perceptions of symptom distress in cancer


  • *

    Present address University College Hospital, London

Dr S Holmes Division of Nursing Studies University of Surrey, Guildford Surrey GU2 5XH


A modified version of the McCorkle & Young Symptom Distress Scale, based on a linear analogue self-assessment scoring system, was used to assess symptom distress in a heterogeneous sample of 53 cancer patients The scale was simultaneously completed by the nurses caring for those patients, who were asked to rate the patient according to how they perceived he was feeling with regard to each particular symptom The scores were compared for congruency This preliminary study suggests that, although nurses appear able to estimate the degree of distress due to changes in mobility and appearance or the presence of diarrhoea, constipation and tiredness, they are less effective in perceiving the degree of distress due to the less Visible’ symptoms such as pain, nausea, anorexia, sleeping disturbances, concentration and mood Perhaps surprisingly, the trend was for nurses to overestimate the degree of distress when this was compared with the patients’ self-assessment