Background. Thyroid cancer patients have a survival rate of over 90% after thyroidectomy. However, quality of life with a generic focus has rarely been studied in thyroid cancer survivors.
Aim. This paper reports a study to examine and describe factors associated with quality of life among patients with thyroid cancer after operation.
Methods. Adult patients who had a thyroidectomy for cancer between January 1999 and June 2001 in a Taiwan city participated in the study. Telephone interviews was completed with 146 (67%) of those 218 eligible, asking about sociodemographic variables, disease/treatment characteristics and social support. Quality of life was measured by the Chinese version of the Quality of Life Index. Multivariate analyses were performed using multiple linear regressions.
Result. The regression model showed that patients at 19–36 months after operation had lower quality of life compared with those within 18 months of operation. Current symptoms of fatigue and chills were negatively associated with quality of life. Those who rated the impact of operational scar on activities as ‘high’ had lower quality of life scores. Social support from families and friends had positive effects on quality of life. The model r2 was 48·1%.
Conclusions. Nurses could improve quality of life among patients with thyroid cancer by strengthening their social support and educating them in self-management of uncomfortable symptoms. Surgeons should consider types of operation in which the scar would be less likely to influence the patients’ activities.