Symptom Clusters and Quality of Life in Hospice Patients with Cancer

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Adult Health Department, Faculty of Nursing, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan.

2 Department of Community Medicine, Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan.

3 Thompson Professor of Oncology Nursing, College of Nursing,University of South Florida, United States.


Background: Symptom control is an important part of palliative care and important to achieve optimal quality of life (QOL). Studies have shown that patients with advanced cancer suffer from diverse and often severe physical and psychological symptoms. The aim is to explore the influence of symptom clusters on QOL among patients with advanced cancer. Materials and Methods: 709 patients with advanced cancer were recruited to participate in a clinical trial focusing on symptom management and QOL. Patients were adults newly admitted to hospice home care in one of two hospices in southwest Florida, who could pass mental status screening. The instruments used for data collection were the Demographic Data Form, Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS), and the Hospice Quality of Life Index-14. Results: Exploratory factor analysis and multiple regression were used to identify symptom clusters and their influence on QOL. The results revealed that the participants experienced multiple concurrent symptoms. There were four symptom clusters found among these cancer patients. Individual symptom distress scores that were the strongest predictors of QOL were: feeling pain; dry mouth; feeling drowsy; nausea; difficulty swallowing; worrying and feeling nervous. Conclusions: Patients with advanced cancer reported various concurrent symptoms, and these form symptom clusters of four main categories. The four symptoms clusters have a negative influence on patients’ QOL and required specific care from different members of the hospice healthcare team. The results of this study should be used to guide health care providers’ symptom management. Proper attention to symptom clusters should be the basis for accurate planning of effective interventions to manage the symptom clusters experienced by advanced cancer patients. The health care provider needs to plan ahead for these symptoms and manage any concurrent symptoms for successful promotion of their patient’s QOL.


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