Aims and objectives
To explore the association between symptoms, symptom distress and symptom self-management and to identify effective strategies of symptom self-management in men with non-metastatic prostate cancer following radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy.
Men receiving treatments for localised prostate cancer experience symptoms of urinary incontinence, urinary obstruction/irritation, bowel difficulties and sexual dysfunction. Understanding patients' symptom experiences and identifying strategies that they use to manage these symptoms are imperative for symptom management planning.
A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted with a sample of 53 men, who were within three months of the initiation of their treatment.
The Symptom Indexes and the Strategy and Effectiveness of Symptom Self-Management questionnaires were used to measure symptoms, symptom distress and symptom self-management. Descriptive statistics, t-tests, correlations and multiple regressions were used to analyse the data.
Symptoms were significantly correlated with symptom-related distress (r = 0·67, p < 0·01). Frequency of symptoms was significantly associated with symptom self-management strategies for urinary (β = 0·50, p < 0·01), bowel (β = 0·71, p < 0·01) and sexual problems (β = 0·28, p = 0·05). The most effective strategies were as follows: pads and doing Kegel exercise for managing urinary problems, rest and endurance for bowel symptoms, and expressing feelings and finding alternative ways to express affection for management of sexual dysfunction.
Assessing symptom self-management among men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer can help healthcare providers develop strategies that will enhance health-related quality of life.
Relevance to clinical practice
Results provide information on effective strategies that patients with prostate cancer found to reduce their symptoms. The strategies used provide a foundation for developing and testing interventions for personalised symptom management.