In response to: Fu M.R., McDaniel R.W. & Rhodes V.A. (2007) Measuring symptom occurrence and symptom distress: development of the Symptom Distress Index. Journal of Advanced Nursing59, 623–634

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We applaud the careful development and psychometric testing of the Symptom Distress Index (SDI) by Fu et al. (2007). The SDI is a very nice addition to the collection of instruments researchers can use to measure various aspects of individuals’ experiences of symptoms. We are, however, concerned that the researchers did not acknowledge the Symptom Experience Scale (SES), developed by Samarel et al. (1996) to measure symptoms experienced by women being treated for breast cancer. The SES measures the frequency and intensity of eight symptoms or unpleasant body sensations, as well as the distress associated with the symptoms or sensations. The symptoms and sensations included in the SES are nausea, pain, appetite disturbance, sleep disturbance, fatigue, changes in bowel patterns, concentration disturbances, and changes in appearance. The SES has been used in several studies, including investigations of the effects of social support and education interventions for women with breast cancer (Samarel et al. 2002, Coleman et al. 2005), and has been adapted for men with prostate cancer (Scura et al. 2004). Given that both the SDI and the SES are derivatives of McCorkle and Young’s (1978) widely used Symptom Distress Scale, we would be surprised to learn that the researchers did not find the SES relevant to their work.

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