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Assessing symptoms of terminally-ill patients by different raters: A prospective study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2005

SILKE ZLOKLIKOVITS
Affiliation:
Section of Palliative Care and Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
ELISABETH ANDRITSCH
Affiliation:
Section of Palliative Care and Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
BRIGITTE FRÖHLICH
Affiliation:
Section of Palliative Care and Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
JULIJANE VEREBES
Affiliation:
Section of Palliative Care and Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
GABRIELE DIETMAIER
Affiliation:
Section of Palliative Care and Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
HELLMUT SAMONIGG
Affiliation:
Section of Palliative Care and Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria

Abstract

Objective: For patients who are terminally ill, the efficiency of symptom management is dependent, among other factors, on an accurate assessment by proxy raters. The aim of this prospective study is to describe differences in symptom severity ratings between patients and their nurses, physicians, and family members during their stay in different departments with acute care, and to identify variables associated with the accuracy of the ratings by others.

Methods: Physical, psychological, social, and functional disorders were assessed for 41 in-patients with a standardized 13-item Symptom List for Quality Assurance in Palliative Care drafted by the Working Group on the Core Documentation for Palliative Care Units in Germany. Symptom assessment was completed by different raters (patient, nurse, physician, family member) within the first four days after admission. Socio-demographic, disease-related, and hospitalization data were taken from patient charts.

Results: Reliability of the symptom list was computed with Cronbach's alpha measures for the present sample. Between-group-comparisons on the individual items and on the sum-score level were analyzed separately for the different rater-pairs: patients-nurses (n = 41), patients-physicians (n = 39), patients-family members (n = 12). Multiple regression analyses calculated predictive variables of the staff's deviation scores.

Significance of results: Significant differences for nurses and physicians were found on the sum-score level for psychological and social symptoms, but not for physical and functional symptoms. Family members rated the intensities of the symptoms generally higher than the patients. Suggestions for further analyses are presented and discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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