The Investigation of Symptom Distress in Cancer Patients and Its Related Factors

Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Chou-Ping Chiou, RN, PhD , School of Nursing, I-Shou University, Kaohsiung County, Taiwan
Pei-Ling Tang, RN, MSN , Department of Nursing, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Hui-Ying Cheng, RN, MSN , Department of Nursing, Zuoying Armed Forces General Hospital, Kaohsiung County, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: increase understanding of the multidimensional health locus of control and symptom distress in cancer patients.

Learning Objective 2: increase understanding of the relationship between symptom distress and characteristics of cancer patients.


To investigate the multidimensional health locus of control and symptom distress in cancer patients, and their relations to characteristics of patients.


The study involved 169 patients that underwent radiotherapy at a medical center of southern Taiwan. The study was designed to correlate the variants by convenient sampling. The investigating tool was a structural questionnaire. The collected data included personal profile and characteristics of disease, the scale for multidimensional health locus of control, and the scale for symptom distress.


The study disclosed the average score of symptom distress in cancer patients was 38.33. The most common symptoms were insomnia, pain, fatigue, poor appetite, and thirst. With respect to doctors health locus of control, the highest average score was 5.12 in believing that the doctors controlled the patients' health. Whenever the patients felt deterioration of health status, their symptom distress aggravated. Subjective health status and undertaking operation were significant predictors to address the variation of symptom distress in 17% of cancer patients.


The study outcomes enable the staffs of medical care to realize the symptom distress in cancer patients. The medical staffs should pay more attention to those patients who underwent operations or subjectively felt deterioration of their own health status. We also should help the patients to build up a positive attitude by individualized nursing care in order to assist the patients to complete the treatment protocol.