NCPD Article

Cancer-Related Distress: Symptom Clusters in Rural Head and Neck Cancer Survivors

Veronica Bernacchi

Pamela B DeGuzman
head and neck cancer, survivorship, rural, symptom cluster, symptoms
CJON 2023, 27(1), 55-61. DOI: 10.1188/23.CJON.55-61

Background: Rural post-treatment head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors experience high rates of cancer-related distress and may experience unique symptom clusters. Oncology nurses can benefit from a better understanding of the symptom clusters that HNC survivors experience.

Objectives: The purpose of this secondary data analysis was to identify symptom clusters of cancer-related distress in rural HNC survivors.

Methods: Secondary data analysis was conducted with survey data collected from rural HNC survivors (N = 20). Distress symptoms were measured using the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer and Problem List, amended for a population with HNC. Symptom clusters were defined as two or more co-occurring symptoms and evaluated based on participant-reported severity using exploratory factor analysis. Resultant clusters were assessed for theoretical and clinical appropriateness.

Findings: Preliminary analysis suggests rural HNC survivors experience eight symptom clusters. As a first step, the results of this study can help nurses to identify symptom clusters in rural HNC survivors.

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