Background: One in every three persons in Norway will be afflicted with some form of cancer during their lifetime.
Aim: This article discusses the self-evaluations of health and quality of life by 86 people who were diagnosed with cancer 6 months to 3 years previously.
Method: The Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form 36 (SF-36), developed to measure health status and outcome for both clinical practice and research, was sent to 199 cancer patients in a rural Norwegian county-municipality. Eighty-six questionnaires were returned with a response rate of 43%. Of the respondents, 44 were women and 42 were men. Their average age was 58 years. The majority had been diagnosed with cancer 2 years earlier, and 49 responded that they had been declared cured.
Results: Respondents scored lowest on the scale of ‘physical role functions’, which indicates the degree to which poor physical health influences daily activities, and on ‘vitality’, which reflects their perception of energy.
Conclusions: Cancer victims in this study felt drained of energy for a long period after they had received their diagnosis. Those who had not been declared cured scored lower on all scales than those who have been declared healthy. These respondents apparently have poor health and quality of life. When compared with a nationally available study, the persons who have cancer are far more drained of energy than the population as a whole.
Implications for practice: Health personnel need to take more responsibility for the follow-up of persons with cancer throughout all stages of illness. More concern should be paid particularly to psychosocial needs.