Controlling symptoms can lead to improved quality of life for end-of-life patients

Jan 20, 2011

Healthcare workers can most directly affect quality of life (QOL) of patients with advanced stage lung cancer by helping manage symptoms such as pain, lack of energy, shortness of breath, coughing, difficulty sleeping and dry mouth, according to a study recently published in the journal Oncology Nursing Forum.

Understanding the symptoms, particularly symptom distress - or the degree to which a symptom bothers a person, is crucial to improved patient care. Intervention at the time of diagnosis is important because with stage IIIb or IV may approach the end of life quickly.

The study, "Determinants of Quality of Life in Patients Near the End of Life: A Longitudinal Perspective" was conducted by Carla Hermann, PhD, RN, associate professor, University of Louisville School of Nursing, and Stephen Looney, PhD, Medical College of Georgia.

The researchers interviewed 80 patients with either stage IIIb or IV lung cancer who were newly diagnosed or had recurrent lung cancer. The study measured symptom frequency, severity, and distress; functional status; anxiety and depression. Within five months of diagnosis, 40 patients had died. The strongest determinant of QOL was symptom distress, followed by symptom severity, symptom frequency and depression.

"People at the end of life have a wide variety of needs, and healthcare workers need to evaluate patients holistically – focusing not only on physical needs but also on their psycho-social and spiritual needs," Hermann said. "The end of life can be a time of great personal growth for many, and nurses and other healthcare professionals can help foster that growth."

The implication of this research for nurses and other is to develop a thorough symptom assessment and to intervene quickly for patients with advanced lung cancer.

Nurses and other healthcare professionals have a unique opportunity to make a valuable and lasting impact on patients and their families, Hermann concluded.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

Provided by University of Louisville

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study takes a step toward better defining fatigue

May 15, 2008

In an effort to better define and ultimately address fatigue more effectively, a qualitative study from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has identified three primary themes - loss of strength or energy, ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...