Setting This study was conducted at 3 separate locations. Location A is a 6-bay infusion center within a medium-size midwest acute care hospital accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer for 30 consecutive years. The other 2 facilities are located in the same medical complex. Facility B is a medical oncology office with a 12-bay treatment area, and facility C is a radiation oncology office with 2 linear accelerators.

Instruments NCCN developed distress guidelines to help the treatment team best treat distress in the cancer patient.10 Within the distress guidelines is a distress thermometer. The thermometer measures patient distress on a scale of 0 (no distress) to 10 (the highest level of distress experienced in the previous week). Patients who reported their distress as a 4 or lower is managed within the clinical setting. Patients who reported their distress as a 5 or higher met directly with the researcher to ensure that a plan was in place to meet their needs.

In addition to overall distress, the tool lists problems in 5 topic areas (practical, family, emotional, spiritual/religious, and physical) that may be contributing to the patient’s distress over the previous week, with space to list other problems. The patient checks yes or no to each potential problem.

The researchers added questions to collect data on gender and age, and cancer characteristics (eg, cancer type, year of diagnosis, prior and/or concurrent treatment, and current point in treatment cycle). The 2 treatment-related questions were included to determine if the patient’s distress was associated with the previous treatment and/or the current point in treatment.

Study population A total of 55 people participated in this research study (Table 1). Most respondents were female (69%; N = 38), and age 66 to 75 years (36%; N = 20). The most common cancer types were breast (26%; N = 14), lung (18%; N = 10), and colorectal (16%; N = 9). In addition, 11 other cancer types were represented in this study (Table 2).

TABLE 1. Study Participant Demographics

Characteristic Percent (N)
Gender
Female 69 (38)
Male 31 (17)
Age
26-35 years 2 (1)
36-45 years 6 (3)
46-55 years 16 (9)
56-65 years 29 (16)
66-75 years 36 (20)
>75 years 11 (6)

TABLE 2. Participants’ Disease and Treatment Demographics

Cancer Type Percent (N)
Breast 26 (14)
Lung 18 (10)
Colorectal 16 (9)
Prostate 4 (2)
Lymphoma 7 (3)
Renal Cell 2 (1)
Bone 2 (1)
Head and neck 7 (4)
Gynecologic 5 (3)
Multiple myeloma 4 (2)
Leukemia 2 (1)
MDS 2 (1)
Brain 2 (1)
Melanoma skin 4 (2)
Treatment Type
Radiation 38 (21)
Chemotherapy 62 (34)
Year of Diagnosis
2015 13 (7)
2014 46 (25)
2013 6 (3)
2012 4 (2)
2011 2 (1)
2010-2007 9 (5)
2000 or earlier 6 (3)
Unknown 16 (9)
Prior Treatment
Yes 35 (19)
No 46 (25)
Concurrent 2 (1)
Cannot remember 18 (10)
Number of Treatments
First cycle/week 7 (4)
Second cycle/week 11 (6)
Third cycle/week to half-way point 20 (11)
Half-way point to second to last cycle/week 7 (4)
Last cycle/week 18 (10)
Palliative till End of Life 5 (9)
Cannot remember 27 (15)

Sixty-two percent (N = 34) of participants were receiving chemotherapy, and the remaining patients (38%; N = 21), were undergoing radiation treatment. One patient was receiving concurrent chemotherapy and radiation; this patient’s results were included once under radiation as the survey was completed on the day of a radiation treatment.