Implementation of routine Screening for Distress constitutes a major change in cancer care, with the aim of achieving person-centered care.
Using a cross-sectional descriptive design within a University Tertiary Care Hospital setting, 911 patients from all cancer sites were screened at the time of their first meeting with a nurse navigator who administered a paper questionnaire that included: the Distress Thermometer (DT), the Canadian Problem Checklist (CPC), and the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS).
Results showed a mean score of 3.9 on the DT. Fears/worries, coping with the disease, and sleep were the most common problems reported on the CPC. Tiredness was the most prevalent symptom on the ESAS. A final regression model that included anxiety, the total number of problems on the CPC, well-being, and tiredness accounted for almost 50% of the variance of distress. A cutoff score of 5 on the DT together with a cutoff of 5 on the ESAS items represents the best combination of specificity and sensitivity to orient patients on the basis of their reported distress.
Significance of results:
These descriptive data will provide valuable feedback to answer practical questions for the purpose of effectively implementing and managing routine screening in cancer care.