Quality of life, distress, anxiety and depression of ambulatory cancer patients receiving chemotherapy
Objective and aim. Cancer and its treatment have substantial physical and psychological consequences that severely affect the patients’ quality of life (QoL) and emotional status. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between distress, anxiety, depression, and QoL of ambulatory cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Methods. A descriptive, cross-sectional study of 150 cancer patients who were receiving chemotherapy in the outpatient unit of a central anticancer hospital in Athens. The data were collected through convenience sampling between November 2017 and January 2018, using a demographic and clinical characteristics questionnaire, the Distress Thermometer (DT) and Problem List (PL), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment for Cancer QoL assessment Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30).
Results. Variability characterized the sample’s demographic and clinical characteristics. The majority of patients were women (64%), married (66%), high school graduates (43%), had breast cancer (35%), with a mean age of 60.07 ± 11.42. 83% reported anxiety, 75% reported fear, 51% nervousness and sadness, 34% depression and 84.7% fatigue. The DT was positively correlated with HADS (p<0.001) and with almost all EORTC QLQ-C30 functional subscales and symptoms (p<0.001). The HADS-Anxiety was significantly correlated with overall QoL and with almost all the EORTC QLQ-C30 functional scales and symptoms (p<0.001). HADS-Depression was significantly correlated with overall QoL and all the EORTC QLQ-C30 functional scales and symptoms (p<0.001). Women tended to have higher level of distress (p=0.003). There was a statistically significant relationship between educational level, the cognitive functioning scale (p=0.017) and financial difficulties (p=0.026).
Conclusions. Ambulatory cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are at risk of facing distress in all aspects of daily living, along with anxiety and depression, which decreases their QoL. Oncology nurses as members of multidisciplinary teams should assess the affected aspects of patients’ QoL and appropriate interventions should be implemented at community level.